May Day In Old Farming Ireland
Poem By Seán O Muiríosa
Another May Day arrives and the Farmer, he shudders,
In a deep moment of fear for everything he loves –
His cows and crops and his children, so very dear.
The old beech sways creakily in a passing wind
Cutting his fear wide apart with a frosty slash
Of panic, striking the poor old Farmers heart,
Sending his poor soul searching for itself.
The Farmer dashes in a sweat from house to parlour.
Checking on the butter – still yellow, still hard.
Checking on the milk – still cold and snowy,
Not sour. His Wife paces the little kitchen
Anxious in her flowery apron, one eye
On her dreadful Husband, another on
The lane, the children are due home.
In the afternoon the Farmer plants a single May Tree
(The annual custom) behind the farmyard square.
Each family member gathers tightly around
And Father leads on with a faithful prayer
To protect the land from the demons and
The fairies, the little people swapping
Places with the young children.
Protection is sought from all these demonic events
As May Day pays her visit countrywide. Finally
When it’s all done, the farmer, he can rest,
Peacefully, by the blazing turf fire. His
Eyelids close and he prays for the best –
An autumn and many bags full of grain;
A May with no fairies; a little rain.