Moryah [poem by John O’Brien]

[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]


“Wisha, where is he goin’ to now
With the hat on the back of the poll.
And the hair of him curled on the brow,
Like a millionaire out for a stroll?”
“Ar’, Old Man, but he’s yardin’ the cow.”
With the hat on the back of his poll?”

“There’s the red heifer’s calf in the lane,
And the gray mare is mad for a bite,
And the dog up above on the chain
Is shoutin’ and bawlin’ all night.”
“Sure, Old Man, you’re keownrawnin’ again.”
And that Jim gallivantin’ the night?”

“Yer’, Old Man, but the head of him’s young,
And the chubby gossoon with the dart
Have the wits of him straightened and strung
To the tune of the song in the heart,
With the lilt of it there on the tongue.”
“Moryah —
And bad luck from the song in the heart!”

’Tis that Casey girl now have him caught,
And her mother out baking the bread;
It is there she should be, so she ought,
With the eyes dancing jigs in her head;
Faith, when I was a boy, sure we thought…”
’Twas yourself had an eye in the head.”

“Don’t I mind the old days that are through,
When a boy and a colleen afar
Felt the bound and the hurt of it too
As they swung in a dream on a star —
Thiggim-thu,* my Old Man, thiggim-thu?”
Poor old woman, ’tis dreamin’ you are.”

* Moryah is the Celtic equivalent of “I don’t think!”
* “Don’t you understand?”

Published in:
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921

Editor’s notes:
keownrawnin’ = [keownrawning] grumbling; possibly related to cnáimhseáiling (Anglicised as “knawvshawling”) meaning grumbling or complaining
moryah = P.W. Joyce defined “moryah” as follows: “Mor-yah; a derisive expression of dissent to drive home the untruthfulness of some assertion or supposition or pretence, something like the English ‘forsooth,’ but infinitely stronger:— A notorious schemer and cheat puts on airs of piety in the chapel and thumps his breast in great style; and a spectator says:— Oh how pious and holy Joe is growing — mar-yah! ‘Mick is a great patriot, mor-yah! — He’d sell his country for half a crown.’ Irish mar-sheadh [same sound], ‘as it were.’” [see: P. W. Joyce. English As We Speak It in Ireland, Longman, Green & Co., London, 1910, page 296]
Ouisha = presumably the same as “wisha”, an Irish exclamation; like the English exclamation “well, indeed”
thiggim-thu = “Don’t you understand?”, according to John O’Brien

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