The Man From God-Knows Where
Into our townlanÂ´, on a night of snow,
Rode a man from God-knows-where;
None of us bade him stay or go,
Nor deemed him friend, nor damned him foe.
But we stabled his big roan mare:
For in our townlanÂ´ weÂ´re a decent folk,
And if he didnÂ´t speak, why none of us spoke,
And we sat till the fire burned low.
WeÂ´re a civil sort in our wee place,
So we made the circle wide
Round Andy LemonÂ´s cheerful blaze,
And wished the man his lenth oÂ´days;
And a good end to his ride,
He smiled in under his slouchy hat
Says he: "ThereÂ´s a bit of a joke in that,
For we ride different ways."
The whiles we smoked we watched him
From his seat fornenst the glow,
I nudged Joe Moore, "You wouldnÂ´t dare
To ask him who heÂ´s for meetinÂ´ there,
And how far he has got to go?"
But Joe wouldnÂ´t dare, nor Wully Scott,
And he took no drink - neither cold nor hot
This man from God-knows-where.
It was closinÂ´ time, anÂ´ late forbye,
When us ones braved the air
I never saw worse (may I live or die)
Than the sleet that night, anÂ´ I says, says I,
"YouÂ´ll find heÂ´s for stoppinÂ´ there."
But at screek oÂ´ day, through the gable pane
I watched him spur in the peltinÂ´ rain,
And I juked from his rovinÂ´ eye.
Two winters more, then the Trouble Year,
When the best that a man could feel
Was the pike he kept in hidlinÂ´s near,
Till the blood oÂ´ hate anÂ´ the blood oÂ´ fear
Would be redder nor rust on the steel.
Us ones quet from mindinÂ´ the farms
Let them take what we gave wiÂ´ the weight oÂ´ our arms,
From Saintfield to Kilkeel.
In the time oÂ´ the Hurry, we had no lead
We all of us fought with the rest
AnÂ´ if eÂ´er a one shook like a tremblinÂ´ reed
None of us gave neither hint nor heed,
Nor even evenÂ´d weÂ´d guessed.
We men of the North had a word to say,
AnÂ´ we said it then, in our own dour way,
AnÂ´ we spoke as we thought was best.
All Ulster over, the weemen cried
For the stanÂ´inÂ´ crops on the lanÂ´
ManyÂ´s the sweetheart anÂ´ manyÂ´s the bride
Would liefer haÂ´ gone till where he died.
An haÂ´ murned her lone by her man,
But us one weathered the thick of it,
And we used to dandher along, and sit
In AndyÂ´s side by side.
What with discoorse goinÂ´ to and fro,
The night would be wearinÂ´ thin,
Yet never so late when we rose to go
But someone would say: "Do ye minÂ´ thon snow,
AnÂ´ the man what came wanderinÂ´ in?
And we be to fall to the talk again,
If by chance he was one oÂ´ them
The man who went like the winÂ´.
Well, Â´twas gettinÂ´ on past the heat oÂ´ the year
When I rode to Newtown fair;
I sold as I could (the dealers were near
Only three pounds eight for the Innish steer,
AnÂ´ nothinÂ´ at all for the mare!)
But I met McKee in the throng oÂ´ the street
Says he, "The grass has grown under our feet
Since they hanged young Warwick here."
And he told me that Boney had promised help
To a man in Dublin town
Says he, "If yeÂ´ve laid the pike on the shelf,
YeÂ´d better go home hot-fut by yerself,
AnÂ´ once more take it down."
So by Comer road I trotted the gray
And never cut corn until Killyleagh
Stood plain on the risinÂ´ grounÂ´.
For a wheen oÂ´ days we sat waitinÂ´ the word
To rise and go at it like men,
But no French ships sailed into Cloughey Bay,
And we heard the black news on a harvest day
That the cause was lost again;
And Joey and me, and Wully Boy Scott,
We agreed to ourselves weÂ´d as lief as not
HaÂ´ been found in the thick oÂ´ the slain.
By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare
On a day IÂ´ll remember, feth;
For when I came to the prison square
The people were waitinÂ´ in hundreds there,
AnÂ´ you wouldnÂ´t hear stir nor breath!
For the sodgers were standinÂ´, grim anÂ´ tall,
Round a scaffold built there fomenst the wall,
AnÂ´ a man stepped out for death!
I was brave anÂ´ near to the edge oÂ´ the throng,
Yet I knowed the face again,
AnÂ´ I knowed the set, anÂ´ I knowed the walk
AnÂ´ the sound of his strange up-country talk,
For he spoke out right anÂ´ plain.
Then he bowed his head to the swinginÂ´ rope,
While I said, "Please God" to his dyingÂ´ hope
And "Amen" to his dying prayer.
That the Wrong would cease and the Right prevail.
For the man that they hanged at Downpatrick Gaol
Was the man from God-knows-where!
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