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Short poem

Thomas MacDonagh (1878-1916)


              1I dreamt last night of you, John-John,
              2    And thought you called to me;
              3And when I woke this morning, John,
              4    Yourself I hoped to see;
              5But I was all alone, John-John,
              6    Though still I heard your call:
              7I put my boots and bonnet on,
              8    And took my Sunday shawl,
              9And went, full sure to find you, John,
            10    To Nenagh fair.

            11The fair was just the same as then,
            12    Five years ago to-day,
            13When first you left the thimble men
            14    And came with me away;
            15For there again were thimble men
            16    And shooting galleries,
            17And card-trick men and Maggie men
            18    Of all sorts and degrees, --
            19But not a sight of you, John-John,
            20    Was anywhere.

            21I turned my face to home again,
            22    And called myself a fool
            23To think you'd leave the thimble men
            24    And live again by rule,
            25And go to mass and keep the fast
            26    And till the little patch:
            27My wish to have you home was past
            28    Before I raised the latch
            29And pushed the door and saw you, John,
            30    Sitting down there.

            31How cool you came in here, begad,
            32    As if you owned the place!
            33But rest yourself there now, my lad,
            34    'Tis good to see your face;
            35My dream is out, and now by it
            36    I think I know my mind:
            37At six o'clock this house you'll quit,
            38    And leave no grief behind; --
            39But until six o'clock, John-John,
            40    My bit you'll share.

            41The neighbours' shame of me began
            42    When first I brought you in;
            43To wed and keep a tinker man
            44    They thought a kind of sin;
            45But now this three year since you're gone
            46    'Tis pity me they do,
            47And that I'd rather have, John-John,
            48    Than that they'd pity you.
            49Pity for me and you, John-John,
            50    I could not bear.

            51Oh, you're my husband right enough,
            52    But what's the good of that?
            53You know you never were the stuff
            54    To be the cottage cat,
            55To watch the fire and hear me lock
            56    The door and put out Shep --
            57But there now, it is six o'clock
            58    And time for you to step.
            59God bless and keep you far, John-John!
            60    And that's my prayer.


10] Nenagh, County Tipperary, Ireland.

13] thimble men: swindlers, as by the game of putting a pea under one of three thimbles, quickly shifting them around, and challenging the mark to guess where it is.

17] Maggie men: pimps.

25] Roman Catholics are enjoined to go without meat every Friday and in Lent.

43] tinker man: tramp, beggar.

Online text copyright © 2005, Ian Lancashire for the Department of English, University of Toronto.
Published by the Web Development Group, Information Technology Services, University of Toronto Libraries.

Original text: The Poetical Works of Thomas MacDonagh (Dublin: Talbot, 1916): 41-43. 23697.12.20 Widener Library, Harvard University
RPO poem editor: Ian Lancashire
RP edition: 2005
Recent editing: 1:2005/2/26

Rhyme: ababacacad efefegegad ...
Form note: Varying.

Other poems by Thomas MacDonagh