[Editor: This poem by John O’Brien was published in Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, 1921.]
That Norah O’Neill is a sthreel,*
And I’m talking the way that I feel,
With her dowdy old hat, and her hair pasted flat,
And her skirt bobbing after her heel;
And there to the church she will steal,
And under the lamp she will kneel
When confessions are done, and there’s never a one
To be heard but that Norah O’Neill.
It annoys the priest’s man a great deal,
And it makes every one boogathiel
At him scraping the floor, yes, and rattlin’ the door
Just to hurry my lady O’Neill.
But there she will squat on her heel,
While over the forms he will steal;
He would put out the light, and close up for the night —
But he can’t for that keershuch O’Neill.
I believe (and I talk as I feel)
When there at the Judgment we kneel,
And, each in his place, is the whole human race —
One half to be sent to the deil —
That, just as they’re setting the seal,
A dust-cloud a glance will reveal
At the end of the day, Jerusalem way;
And you’ll find ’twill be Norah O’Neill,
With her skirt bobbing after her heel,
And we’ll have to go through the whole business anew;
Och, Norah O’Neill is a sthreel.
*Slattern; also spelt streel. In the next verse boogathiel means uncomfortable, and keershuch much the same as sthreel.
John O’Brien. Around the Boree Log and Other Verses, Angus & Robertson, Sydney, 1921
sthreel = an unkempt or untidy woman (in another context, can also refer to a “slut”)
deil = the devil
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