The Old Farm by C.J Dennis

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On his chair set in the sunlight old Dad takes his hard-earned ease,
White head pillowed mid the cushions, children playing round his knees;
And his old voice halts and quavers as the dead days he'll recall,
When Matt Mullen played the fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Oh, 'tis queer ways they have with them, an' 'tis queer the things they do,
Since the boys came into manhood, an' the girls got married, too.
An' the tots that call him "grand-da" seem to multiply and grow,
Till he's lost all count entirely of those names he ought to know.

Norah's Tom and Peter's Norah, Mary's Peter - every year
Seems to bring a score of new ones.  "Queer it is.  An' faith, 'tis queer."
Men they are - young men an' women, who have ne'er a thought at all
Of Matt Mullen with his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

An' they'd try to teach him farmin'!  Him, that learned it years ago,
When young Tom - or was it Peter?  Faith, 'tis hard these days to know.
For they sold the horses on him, an' that fine three-furrow plough,
For their tractors and their motors.  Farmin'?  'Tis not farmin' now.

Music, is it, he is hearin'?  Or their silly gramophone?
Just a music-box to plague him with no tune at all, or tone.
Shure, their records an' their wireless - how could these compare at all
With Matt Mullen an' his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Is this Tom or Mary's Peter comin' from the motor car
With his legs dressed up in stockin's?  Like a woman's, so they are.
He'll be playin' with the women, knocking round a little ball,
When he might be pitchin' horseshoes out beyant the ould barn wall!

Shure, the old farm's rooned completely.  'Tis the young, the restless young;
All too quick to spend the money; all too ready with the tongue.
An' their pleasures - could their pleasures ever match the Harvest ball,
With Mat Mullen and his fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Hark, now, to that puffin' engine, where the old pump used to be,
Shure, the farm is cluttered over with their mad machinery,
With their golfin' an' their tennis, an' their motor cars to drive.
'Twas the bay mare an' the buggy "whin me missus was alive."

"Whin your mother she was livin', rest her soul" . . . she loved the farm;
Worked, she did, with axe an' shovel, nor took shame of it, nor harm.
An' the gay dance she'd be treadin' - feet the lightest of them all,
When Matt Mullen played the fiddle by the ould barn wall.

Old Matt Mullen and his fiddle, he's with Dad the oft'nest now,
When the light winds shake the tree-tops, and the saplings bend and bow -
Old Matt Mullen, dead and buried, many, many years ago,
Playing on a ghostly fiddle all the tunes they used to know.

'Tis "The Wind That Shakes the Barley" and "The Hat Me Father Wore."
Shure, he fiddles just as bravely as he ever did of yore.
'Tis "The Minstrel Boy" he's playin', as he played in 'ninety-five;
Fiddlin' at the silver weddin', "Whin me missus was alive."

Old Dad sittin' in the sunlight "Childer, Hist!  Leave be your row,
Let yeh come an' stand beside me.  Listen, can yeh hear him now?
Tell me, can yeh hear it childer?  How the swate notes rise an' fall?
'Tis Matt Mullen wid his fiddle by the ould barn wall."

First published in The Weekly Times Annual, 5 October 1929

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This page contains a single entry by Perry Middlemiss published on October 5, 2013 8:13 AM.

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