When I rose up in the morning early
On a sunny day in the burst of spring,
My step was lithe, and my form was burly,
I felt as blithe as a bird on the wing;
As I was going out my way
Who should stand in the path but Death;
I knew he was strong, and would not be said nay,
So I wished him "Good-morrow,"—but I caught my breath,
When, "Hurry on, Shawn, for I'm wanting you to come with me," he saith.
Oh, then, Maura, is it parting I am from you,
My thousand loves for ever on earth?
I who would plant the potatoes for you,
I whom you needed to cut the turf!
I who would buy you the young milch cow,
I who would croon you to sleep with a rann,
I who at eve would lie down with your leave—
What ever would you do without your man?
O Maura, keep me with you a little, little longer, if you can!
"There's many an old man down in the town,
And no manner of use or abuse in him more;
There's little Dominic, wizened and brown,
Begging his scraps from door to door;
And his wife and children famished with cold
Trying to find him his bit of bread;
O Death, 'tis your right to take the old—
And they say that Dominic's wrong in his head—
O Death, take Dominic with you, for 'tis badly I'm wanted here," I said.
"It's a fine man you are, but you stand in my way,
I'd be thankful you'd let me get on to my fields;"
He raised his arm, it was cold as clay,
And strong as the flail the thresher wields.
I tried to push him out of my road,
But his bony fingers clutched me tight;
"I am your comrade henceforth," he said,
"Another man tends your sheep to-night;
Hurry home, Shawn, I call for you again before the morning's light."