NORA (in a whisper to CATHLEEN). She’s quiet now and easy; but the day Michael was drowned you could hear her crying out from this to the spring-well. It’s fonder she was of Michael, and would anyone have thought that?
CATHLEEN (slowly and clearly). An old woman will be soon tired with anything she will do, and isn’t it nine days herself is after crying and keening, and making great sorrow in the house?
MAURYA (puts the empty cup mouth downwards on the table, and lays her hands together on BARTLEY’S feet). They’re all together this time, and the end is come. May the Almighty God have mercy on Bartley’s soul, and on Michael’s soul, and on the souls of Sheamus and Patch, and Stephen and Shawn (bending her head); and may He have mercy on my soul, Nora, and on the soul of everyone is left living in the world.
(She pauses, and the keen rises a little more loudly from the women, then sinks away.)
MAURYA (continuing). Michael has a clean burial in the far north, by the grace of the Almighty God. Bartley will have a fine coffin out of the white boards, and a deep grave surely. What more can we want than that? No man at all can be living for ever, and we must be satisfied.
(She kneels down again, and the curtain falls slowly).
William Butler Yeats
[Footnote 1: Reprinted by arrangement with Mr. Yeats and the Macmillan Company, New York, publishers of Mr. Yeats’s Collected Works (1912).]
BRIDGET BRUIN, his wife
SHAWN BRUIN, their son
MAIRE BRUIN, wife of Shawn
A FAERY CHILD
SCENE: In the Barony of Kilmacowan, in the county of Sligo, at a remote time.
SETTING: a room with a hearth on the floor in the middle of a deep alcove on the right. There are benches in the alcove, and a table; a crucifix on the wall. The alcove is full of a glow of light from the fire. There is an open door facing the audience, to the left, and to the left of this a bench. Through the door one can see the forest. It is night, but the moon or a late sunset glimmers through the trees, and carries the eye far off into a vague, mysterious world. MAURTEEN BRUIN, SHAWN BRUIN, and BRIDGET BRUIN sit in the alcove at the table, or about the fire. They are dressed in the costume of some remote time, and near them sits an old priest, FATHER HART, in the garb of a friar. There is food and drink upon the table. MAIRE BRUIN stands by the door, reading a yellow manuscript. If she looks up, she can see through the door into the wood.
Because I bade her go and feed the calves,
She took that old book down out of the thatch
And has been doubled over it all day.
We should be deafened by her groans and moans
Had she to work as some do, Father Hart,
Get up at dawn like me, and mend and scour;
Or ride abroad in the boisterous night like you,
The pyx and blessed bread under your arm.