A wee slip drawin’ water,

Me ould man at the plough,

No grown-up son nor daughter,

That’s the way we’re farmin’ now

“Nno work and little pleasure”

Was the cry before they wint,

Now they’re getting’ both full measure,

So I ought to be content.

Great wages men is givin’

In the land beyant the say,

But ‘tis lonely – lonely livin’

Whin the childher is away.

Och, the baby in the cradle,

Blue eyes and curlin’ hair,

God knows I’d give a gra’dle

To have little Pether there;

No doubt he’d find it funny

Lyin’ here upon me arm,

Him – that’s earnin’ good money,

On a Californy farm.

Six pounds it was or sivin

He sint last quarter day,

But ‘tis lonely – lonely livin’

Whin the childher is away.

God is good – none betther,

And the Divil might be worse,

Each month there comes a letther

Bringing somethin’ for the purse.

And me ould man’s heart rejoices

Whin I read they’re doin’ fine,

But it’s oh! to hear their voices,

And to feel their hands in mine.

To see the cattle drivin’

And young ones makin’ hay,

“ ‘Tis a lonely land to live in

Whin the childer is away.”

Whin the shadders do be fallin’

On the ould man there an’ me,

‘Tis hard to keep from callin’

“Come in, childher, to yer tea!”

I can almost hear them comin’

Mary, Kate and little Con, –

Och! But I’m the foolish woman,

Sure they’re all grown up an’ gone.

That our sins may be forgiven,

An’ not wan go asthray,

I doubt I’d stay in Heaven

If them childher was away.

French, Percy. (1980) ‘Prose, Poems & Parodies.’  Dublin, Helicon Limited