Patrick Kavanagh

My People (2)

Stranger:  What kind your people are
	        I would wish to know:
	        Round-shouldered men like rolling-stock
	        Great in despair
	        Simple in prayer
	        And their hard hands tear
	        The clay on the rock
	        Where the plough cannot go?

Poet:	 'Tis not so
	        Faint-hearted folk my people are
	        To poverty's house they have never invited
	        The giant Pride
	        But await the world
	        Where wrongs are righted.
	        They till their fields and scrape among the stones
	        Because they cannot be schoolmasters
	        They work because Judge Want condemns the drones.
	        Dear stranger duty is a joke
	        Among my peasant folk.

Stranger:  Poet be fair
	        You surely must have seen
	        Beneath these rags of care
	        Hearts that were not mean
	        And cowardly and faint.

Poet:	Why O why
	       Should poet seek to prove
	       The spirit of a saint
	       For one in love
	       Would never probe or pry
	       Into the mystery
	       Of that is gods
	       In the turning clods
	       I cannot tell you what you ask
	       But I shall tell you other things
	       I shall fill the flask
	       Of your curiosity with bitterings

Stranger: I will go
	       To my town back again
	       And never desire to know
	       The hearts of your women and men.

Poet:	Our women are humble as dust
	       They eat the hard crust
	       They suckle our children and we
	       Drink the milk of high mystery.

Stranger: I will go
	       To my townful of vermin
	       That sways to and fro
	       Like fool heads at a sermon
	       I will pour out for them
	       Your vitriol of hell
	       And may Christ condemn
	       My soul if I tell
	       The dream of your folk
	       That arose as you spoke.

§ Line 25, 'O' is an insertion.
Lines 30-32 are corrected from:
'Into the mysteried cove
Where all that is gods
Is safe from the hurtling clods.' 
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