The Farmers’s Boy

THE FARMER’S BOY by Patrick McGill


When I went o’er the mountains a farmer’s boy to be,

My mother wept all morning when taking leave of me;

My heart was heavy in me, but I thrept that I was gay;

A man of twelve should never weep when going far away.


In the country o’er the mountains the rough roads straggle down,

There’s many a long and weary mile ’twixt there and Glenties town;

I went to be a farmer’s boy, to work the season through,

From Whitsuntide to Hallowe’en, which time the rent came due.


When Virgin pure, the dawn’s white arm stole o’er my mother’s door,

From Glenties town I took the road I never trod before;

Come Lammastide I would not see the trout in Greenan’s burn,

And Hallowe’en might come and go, but I would not return.


My mother’s love for me is warm; her house is cold and bare:

A man who wants to see the world has little comfort there;

And there ’tis hard to pay the rent, for all you dig and delve,

But there’s hope beyond the mountains for a little man of twelve.


When I went o’er the mountains I worked for days on end,

Without a soul to cheer me through or one to call me friend;

With older mates I toiled and toiled, in rain and heat and wind,

And kept my place. A Glenties man is never left behind.


The farmer’s wench looked down on me, for she was spruce and clean,

But men of twelve don’t care for girls like lads of seventeen;

And sorrow take the farmer’s wench. Her pride could never hold

With mine when hoeing turnip fields with fellows twice as old.


And so from May to Hallowe’en I wrought and felt content,

And sent my wages through the post to pay my mother’s rent;

For I kept up the Glenties name, and blest when all was done,

The pride that gave a man of twelve the strength of twenty-one.