Man From God-Knows Where
F. M. Wilson
Into our townlanŽ, 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 townlanŽ weŽre a decent folk,
And if he didnŽt speak, why none of us spoke,
And we sat till the fire burned low.
WeŽre a civil sort in our wee place,
So we made the circle wide
Round Andy LemonŽs cheerful blaze,
And wished the man his lenth oŽdays;
And a good end to his ride,
He smiled in under his slouchy hat
Says he: "ThereŽs 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 wouldnŽt dare
To ask him who heŽs for meetinŽ there,
And how far he has got to go?"
But Joe wouldnŽt dare, nor Wully Scott,
And he took no drink - neither cold nor hot
This man from God-knows-where.
It was closinŽ time, anŽ late forbye,
When us ones braved the air
I never saw worse (may I live or die)
Than the sleet that night, anŽ I says, says I,
"YouŽll find heŽs for stoppinŽ there."
But at screek oŽ day, through the gable pane
I watched him spur in the peltinŽ rain,
And I juked from his rovinŽ eye.
Two winters more, then the Trouble Year,
When the best that a man could feel
Was the pike he kept in hidlinŽs near,
Till the blood oŽ hate anŽ the blood oŽ fear
Would be redder nor rust on the steel.
Us ones quet from mindinŽ the farms
Let them take what we gave wiŽ the weight oŽ our arms,
From Saintfield to Kilkeel.
In the time oŽ the Hurry, we had no lead
We all of us fought with the rest
AnŽ if eŽer a one shook like a tremblinŽ reed
None of us gave neither hint nor heed,
Nor even evenŽd weŽd guessed.
We men of the North had a word to say,
AnŽ we said it then, in our own dour way,
AnŽ we spoke as we thought was best.
All Ulster over, the weemen cried
For the stanŽinŽ crops on the lanŽ
ManyŽs the sweetheart anŽ manyŽs the bride
Would liefer haŽ gone till where he died.
An haŽ murned her lone by her man,
But us one weathered the thick of it,
And we used to dandher along, and sit
In AndyŽs side by side.
What with discoorse goinŽ to and fro,
The night would be wearinŽ thin,
Yet never so late when we rose to go
But someone would say: "Do ye minŽ thon snow,
AnŽ the man what came wanderinŽ in?
And we be to fall to the talk again,
If by chance he was one oŽ them
The man who went like the winŽ.
Well, Žtwas gettinŽ on past the heat oŽ 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,
AnŽ nothinŽ at all for the mare!)
But I met McKee in the throng oŽ 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 yeŽve laid the pike on the shelf,
YeŽd better go home hot-fut by yerself,
AnŽ once more take it down."
So by Comer road I trotted the gray
And never cut corn until Killyleagh
Stood plain on the risinŽ grounŽ.
For a wheen oŽ days we sat waitinŽ 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 weŽd as lief as not
HaŽ been found in the thick oŽ the slain.
By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare
On a day IŽll remember, feth;
For when I came to the prison square
The people were waitinŽ in hundreds there,
AnŽ you wouldnŽt hear stir nor breath!
For the sodgers were standinŽ, grim anŽ tall,
Round a scaffold built there fomenst the wall,
AnŽ a man stepped out for death!
I was brave anŽ near to the edge oŽ the throng,
Yet I knowed the face again,
AnŽ I knowed the set, anŽ I knowed the walk
AnŽ the sound of his strange up-country talk,
For he spoke out right anŽ plain.
Then he bowed his head to the swinginŽ rope,
While I said, "Please God" to his dyingŽ 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!