William Butler Yeats

The Ballad Of Father O'Hart

Good Father John O'Hart In penal days rode out To a Shoneen who had free lands And his own snipe and trout. In trust took he John's lands; Sleiveens were all his race; And he gave them as dowers to his daughters. And they married beyond their place. But Father John went up, And Father John went down; And he wore small holes in his Shoes, And he wore large holes in his gown. All loved him, only the shoneen, Whom the devils have by the hair, From the wives, and the cats, and the children, To the birds in the white of the air. The birds, for he opened their cages As he went up and down; And he said with a smile, 'Have peace now'; And he went his way with a frown. But if when anyone died Came keeners hoarser than rooks, He bade them give over their keening; For he was a man of books. And these were the works of John, When, weeping score by score, People came into Colooney; For he'd died at ninety-four. There was no human keening; The birds from Knocknarea And the world round Knocknashee Came keening in that day. The young birds and old birds Came flying, heavy and sad; Keening in from Tiraragh, Keening from Ballinafad; Keening from Inishmurray. Nor stayed for bite or sup; This way were all reproved Who dig old customs up.

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