My Father's Tunes

A poem by Michael Earls

My father had the gay good tunes, the like you'd seldom hear,
A whole day could he whistle them, an' thin he'd up an' sing,
The merry tunes an' twists o'them that suited all the year,
An' you wouldn't ask but listen if yourself stood there a king.
Early of a mornin' would he give "The Barefoot Boy" to us,
An' later on "The Rocky Road" or maybe "Mountain Lark,"
"Trottin' to the Fair" was a liltin' heart of joy to us,
An' whin we heard "The Coulin" sure the night was never dark.

An' what's the good o' foolish tunes, the moilin' folks 'ud say,
It's better teach the children work an' get the crock o' gold;
Thin sorra take their wisdom whin it makes them sad an' gray,--
A man is fitter have a song that never lets him old.
A stave of "Gillan's Apples" or a snatch of "Come Along With Me"
Will warm the cockles o' your heart, an' life will keep its prime.
Yarra, gold is all the richer whin it's "Danny, sing a song for me"
Or what's the good o' money if you're dead afore your time.

It's sense to do your turn o' work, it's healthy to be wise,
An' have the little crock o' gold agin the day o' rain;
But whin the ground is heaviest, your heart will feel the skies,
If you know a little Irish song to lift the road o' pain.
The learnin' an' the wealth we have are never sad an' gray with us,
The dullest times in all the year are merry as the June:
For we've the heart to up an' sing "Arise, an' come away with us,"
The way my father gave it, an' we laughin' in the tune.

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