About the poet
Ian Duhig (b. 1954) was the eighth of eleven children born to Irish parents with a liking for...
The Lammas Hireling
After the fair, I'd still a light heart
And a heavy purse, he struck so cheap.
And cattle doted on him; in his time,
Mine only dropped heifers, fat as cream.
Yields doubled. I grew fond of company
That knew when to shut up. Then one night,
Disturbed from dreams of my dear late wife,
I hunted down her torn voice to his pale form,
Stock-still in the light from the dark lantern,
Stark naked but for the fox-trap biting his ankle.
I knew him a warlock, a cow with leather horns.
To go into the hare gets you muckle sorrow,
The wisdom runs, muckle care. I levelled
And blew the small hour through his heart.
The moon came out. By its yellow witness
I saw him fur over like a stone mossing.
His lovely head thinned/ His top lip gathered.
His eyes rose like bread. I carried him
In a sack that grew lighter at every step
And dropped him from a bridge. There was no
Splash. Now my herd's elf-shot. I don't dream
But spend my nights casting ball from half-crowns
And my days here. Bless me Father, I have sinned.
It has been an hour since my last confession.
from The Lammas Hireling (Picador, 2003), copyright © Ian Duhig 2003, used by permission of the author and the publisher
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