Dora Sigerson Shorter

(1866-1918 / Ireland)

The Foolish Old Man - Poem by Dora Sigerson Shorter

A miller's daughter, as I heard tell—
Sing heigh! but the maid was merry—
Was loved by her father's man full well,
His cheek was brown as a berry.
He made the grey mare fast to her stall,
The red cow drove to the byre,
Then he sought the old man in his hall,
Where he sat before the fire.
Quoth he, 'Old man, I have served you true,
Full twenty years and over,
Now your daughter's hand I do beg from you
That she wed her faithful lover.'
When the farmer heard the youth so speak
There was not reason in him,
His anger like a storm did break,
He feared he could not win him.
Cried he, 'Rash youth, since you dare to nurse
This dream,—this secret wooing,
If you should wed, may a father's curse
Be your swift and sure undoing.
'My curse shall feed on your fields of corn,
On your roof-tree make its nesting,
Your wife shall wish your child unborn
As he pines on her sore heart resting.'

Now when this cruel oath he said
The youth did chide him, crying,
'Since I have neither field nor bed
Your curse shall fall to dying.
'But if I had yon broad grass land,
And there put roof and rafter,
I vow revenge were to your hand
And you'd have all the laughter.'
'If that be so,' the old man cried,
Unto the faithful lover,
'Take you yon keep the wood beside,
And the land that it doth cover.
'So my oath fall on land and lot,
On house and home forever,
Your wife shall pine on the cursed spot,
I shall be beaten never!'
When thus he spoke in anger wild,
The youth did stay him, saying,
'Since I have neither wife nor child
Still goes your curse delaying.
'But should I win for my true bride
Some day your own fair daughter,
Alack! not then your will denied
To make a grievous slaughter.'
When the old man this tale did hear,
He tried no more to stay him,
He gave the youth his daughter dear,
So that his curse might slay him.

All silent he for a year and a day
All lone with his rage and sorrow,
Then he spoke his wrath, 'Too long I stay,
I will seek their roof to-morrow.'

At dawn he sprang on his old grey mare
And to their gate went speeding.
Pale at the door stood his daughter fair,
Her beauty was all exceeding.
Hushed in her arms was her son so dear,
As though she feared to lose him—
She laid the babe with a smile and a tear
Upon her father's bosom.
'Now curse, if you will, our good roof-tree
And all that doth lie under,
But spare our child, so dear,' quoth she,
'Or cleave my heart asunder.'
He had no curse for her piteous cry,
But his long lone love confessing,
With dim eyes raised to the morning sky,
He gave—a father's blessing.

Comments about The Foolish Old Man by Dora Sigerson Shorter

There is no comment submitted by members..

Read this poem in other languages

This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.

I would like to translate this poem »

word flags

What do you think this poem is about?

Poem Submitted: Wednesday, September 29, 2010

[Report Error]