The Man From God-Knows Where
Florence 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!