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A Legend of Tyrone

Crouched round a bare hearth
In hard frosty weather,
Three lonely helpless
Weans cling close together.
Tangled those gold locks,
Once bonnie and bright --
There's no one to fondle the baby tonight.

"My mammie I want,
Oh! my mammie I want!"
The big tears stream down
With the low wailing chant.
Sweet Eily's slight arms
Enfold the gold head.
"Poor weeny Willie,
Sure mammie is dead --

And daddie is crazy
From drinking all day.
Come down holy angels,
And take us away!"
Eily and Eddie keep kissing and crying,
Outside, the weird winds
Are sobbing and sighing.

All in a moment the children are still,
Only a quick coo of gladness from Will.
The sheeling no longer
Seems empty or bare,
For, clothed in soft raiment,
The mother stands there.

They gather around her,
They cling to her dress,
She rains down soft kisses
For each shy caress.
Her light, loving touches
Smooth out tangled locks,
And, pressed to her bosom,
The baby she rocks.

He lies in his cot,
There's a fire in the hearth,
To Eily and Eddie
'Tis heaven on earth,
For mother's deft fingers
Have been everywhere,
She lulls them to rest
In the low 'suggaun' chair.

They gaze open-eyed,
Then the eyes gently close,
As petals fold into the heart of a rose,
But ope soon again in awe, love,
But no fear,
And fondly they murmer,
"Our mammie is here."

She lays them down softly,
She wraps them around,
They lie in sweet slumbers.
She starts at a sound,
The cock loudly crows,
And the spirit's away,
The drunkard steals in,
At the dawning of day.

Again and again,
'Tween the dark and the dawn,
Glides in the dead mother
To nurse Willie Bawn:
Or is it an angel
Who sits by the hearth?
An angel in heaven,
A mother on earth.

- Ellen O'Leary -