The Man From God-Knows Where
F. M. Wilson Into our townlan´, 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 townlan´ we´re a decent folk, And if he didn´t speak, why none of us spoke, And we sat till the fire burned low. We´re a civil sort in our wee place, So we made the circle wide Round Andy Lemon´s cheerful blaze, And wished the man his lenth o´days; And a good end to his ride, He smiled in under his slouchy hat Says he: "There´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 wouldn´t dare To ask him who he´s for meetin´ there, And how far he has got to go?" But Joe wouldn´t dare, nor Wully Scott, And he took no drink - neither cold nor hot This man from God-knows-where. It was closin´ time, an´ late forbye, When us ones braved the air I never saw worse (may I live or die) Than the sleet that night, an´ I says, says I, "You´ll find he´s for stoppin´ there." But at screek o´ day, through the gable pane I watched him spur in the peltin´ rain, And I juked from his rovin´ eye. Two winters more, then the Trouble Year, When the best that a man could feel Was the pike he kept in hidlin´s near, Till the blood o´ hate an´ the blood o´ fear Would be redder nor rust on the steel. Us ones quet from mindin´ the farms Let them take what we gave wi´ the weight o´ our arms, From Saintfield to Kilkeel. In the time o´ the Hurry, we had no lead We all of us fought with the rest An´ if e´er a one shook like a tremblin´ reed None of us gave neither hint nor heed, Nor even even´d we´d guessed. We men of the North had a word to say, An´ we said it then, in our own dour way, An´ we spoke as we thought was best. All Ulster over, the weemen cried For the stan´in´ crops on the lan´ Many´s the sweetheart an´ many´s the bride Would liefer ha´ gone till where he died. An ha´ murned her lone by her man, But us one weathered the thick of it, And we used to dandher along, and sit In Andy´s side by side. What with discoorse goin´ to and fro, The night would be wearin´ thin, Yet never so late when we rose to go But someone would say: "Do ye min´ thon snow, An´ the man what came wanderin´ in? And we be to fall to the talk again, If by chance he was one o´ them The man who went like the win´. Well, ´twas gettin´ on past the heat o´ 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, An´ nothin´ at all for the mare!) But I met McKee in the throng o´ 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 ye´ve laid the pike on the shelf, Ye´d better go home hot-fut by yerself, An´ once more take it down." So by Comer road I trotted the gray And never cut corn until Killyleagh Stood plain on the risin´ groun´. For a wheen o´ days we sat waitin´ 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 we´d as lief as not Ha´ been found in the thick o´ the slain. By Downpatrick Gaol I was bound to fare On a day I´ll remember, feth; For when I came to the prison square The people were waitin´ in hundreds there, An´ you wouldn´t hear stir nor breath! For the sodgers were standin´, grim an´ tall, Round a scaffold built there fomenst the wall, An´ a man stepped out for death! I was brave an´ near to the edge o´ the throng, Yet I knowed the face again, An´ I knowed the set, an´ I knowed the walk An´ the sound of his strange up-country talk, For he spoke out right an´ plain. Then he bowed his head to the swingin´ rope, While I said, "Please God" to his dying´ 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!