James Stephens

(9 February 1882 - 26 December 1950 / Dublin)

O'Bruaidar Poem by James Stephens


I will sing no more songs: the pride of my country I sang
Through forty long years of good rhyme, without any avail;
And no one cared even as much as the half of a hang
For the song or the singer, so here is an end to the tale.


If a person should think I complain and have not got the cause,
Let him bring his eyes here and take a good look at my hand,
Let him say if a goose-quill has calloused this poor pair of paws
Or the spade that I grip on and dig with out there in the land?


When the great ones were safe and renowned and were rooted and tough,
Though my mind went to them and took joy in the fortune of those,
And pride in their pride and their fame, they gave little enough,
Not as much as two boots for my feet, or an old suit of clothes.


I ask a Craftsman that fashioned the fly and the bird,
Of the Champion whose passion will lift me from death in a time,
Of the Spirit that melts icy hearts with the wind of a word,
That my people be worthy, and get, better singing than mine.


I had hoped to live decent, when Ireland was quit of her care,
As a bailiff or steward perhaps in a house of degree,
But my end of the tale is, old brogues and old britches to wear,
So I'll sing no more songs for the men that care nothing for me.

Submitted: Thursday, May 10, 2012

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