Owd Roä(1)

A poem by Alfred Tennyson

NAÄY, noä mander (2) o’ use to be callin’ ’im Roä, Roä, Roä,
Fur the dog’s stoän-deaf, an’ e’s blind, ’e can naither Stan’ nor goä.

But I means fur to maäke ’is owd aäge as ’appy as iver I can,
Fur I owäs owd Roäver moor nor I iver owäd mottal man.

Thou’s rode of ’is back when a babby, afoor thou was gotten too owd,
Fur ’e’d fetch an’ carry like owt, ’e was allus as good as gowd.

Eh, but ’e’d fight wi’ a will when ’e fowt; ’e could howd (3) ’is oän,
An’ Roä as the dog as knaw’d when an’ wheere to bury his boane.

An’ ’e kep his head hoop like a king, an’ ’e’d niver not down wi’ ‘is taäil,
Fur ’e’d niver done nowt to be shaämed on, when we was i’ Howlaby Daäle.

An’ ’e sarved me sa well when ’e lived, that, Dick, when ’e cooms to be deäd,
I thinks as I’d like fur to hev soom soort of a sarvice reäd.

Fur ’e’s moor good sense na the Parliament man ’at stans fur us ’ere,
An’ I’d voät fur ‘im, my oän sen, if ’e could but stan fur the Shere.

‘Faäithful an’ True’—them words be i’ Scriptur—an’ Faäithful an’ True
Ull be fun’ (4) upo’ four short legs ten times fur one upo’ two.

An’ maäybe they’ll walk upo’ two but I knaws they runs upo’ four, (5)—
Bedtime, Dicky! but waäit till tha ’eärs it be strikin’ the hour.

Fur I wants to tell tha o’ Roä when we lived i’ Howlaby Daäle,
Ten year sin—Naäy—naäy! tha mun nobbut hev’ one glass of aäle.

Straänge an’ owd-farran’d (6) the ’ouse, an’ belt (7) long afoor my daäy
Wi’ haäfe o’ the chimleys a-twizzen’d (8) an’ twined like a band o’ haäy.

The fellers as maäkes them picturs, ’ud coom at the fall o’ the year,
An’ cattle their ends upo stools to pictur the door-poorch theere,

An’ the Heagle ’as hed two heäds stannin’ theere o’ the brokken stick; (9)
An’ they niver ’ed seed sich ivin’s (10) as graw’d hall ower the brick;

An’ theere i’ the ’ouse one night—but it’s down, an’ all on it now
Goän into mangles an’ tonups, (11) an’ raäved slick thruf by the plow—

Theere, when the ’ouse wur a house, one night I wur sittin’ aloän,
Wi’ Roäver athurt my feeät, an’ sleeäpin still as a stoän,

Of a Christmas Eäve, an’ as cowd as this, an’ the midders (12) as white,
An the fences all on ’em bolster ’d oop wi’ the windle (13) that night;

An’ the cat wur a-sleeäpin alongside Roäver, but I wur awaäke,
An’ smoäkin’ an’ thinkin’ o’ things—Doänt maäke thysen sick wi’ the caäke.

Fur the men ater supper ’ed sung their songs an’ ’ed ’ed their beer,
An’ ’ed goän their waäys; ther was nobbut three, an’ noän on ’em theere.

They was all on ’em fear’d o’ the Ghoäst an’ dussn’t not sleeäp i’ the ’ouse,
But Dicky, the Ghoäst moästlins (14) was nobbut a rat or a mouse.

An’ I looökt out wonst (15) at the night, an’ the daäle was all of a thaw,
Fur I seed the beck coomin’ down like a long black snaäke i’ the snaw,

An’ I heärd greät heäps o’ the snaw slushin’ down fro’ the bank to the beck,
An’ then as I stood i’ the doorwaäy, I feeäld it drip o’ my neck.

Saw I turn’d in ageän, an’ I thowt o’ the good owd times ’at was goan,
An’ the munney they maäde by the war, an’ the times ’at was coomin’ on;

Fur I thowt if the Staäte was a gawin’ to let in furriners’ wheat,
Howiver was British farmers to stan’ ageän o’ their feeät.

Howiver was I fur to find my rent an’ to paäy my men?
An’ all along o’ the feller (16) as turn’d ’is back of hissen.

Thou slep i’ the chaumber above us, we couldn’t ha’ ’eard tha call,
Sa Moother ’ed tell’d ma to bring tha down, an’ thy craädle an’ all;

Fur the gell o’ the farm ’at slep wi’ tha then ’ed gotten wer leäve,
Fur to goä that night to ’er foälk by cause o’ the Christmas Eäve;

But I cleän forgot tha, my lad, when Moother ’ell gotten to bed,
An’ I slep i’ my chair hup-on-end, an’ the Freeä Traäde runn’d ‘i my ’ead,

Till I dreäm’d ’at Squire walkt in, an’ I says to him ‘Squire, ya’re laäte,’
Then I seed at ’is faäce wur as red as the Yule-block theer i’ the graäte.

An’ ’e says ‘can ya paäy me the rent to-night?’ an’ I says to ’im ‘Noä,’
An’ ’e cotch’d howd hard o’ my hairm, (17) ‘Then hout to-night tha shall goä.’

‘Tha’ll niver,’ says I, ‘be a-turnin ma hout upo’ Christmas Eäve’?
Then I waäked an’ I fun it was Roäver a-tuggin’ an’ tearin’ my slieäve.

An’ I thowt as ’e’d goän cleän-wud, (18) fur I noäwaäys knaw’d ’is intent;
An’ I says ‘Git awaäy, ya beäst,’ an’ I fetcht ‘im a kick an’ ’e went.

Then ’e tummled up stairs, fur I ’eärd ’im, as if ’e’d ’a brokken ’is neck,
An’ I’d cleär forgot, little Dicky, thy chaumber door wouldn’t sneck; (19)

An’ I slep’ i’ my chair ageän wi’ my hairm hingin’ down to the floor,
An’ I thowt it was Roäver a-tuggin’ an’ tearin’ me wuss nor afoor,

An’ I thowt ’at I kick’d ’im ageän, but I kick’d thy Moother istead.
‘What arta snorin’ theere fur? the house is afire,’ she said.

Thy Moother ’ed beän a-naggin’ about the gell o’ the farm,
She offens ’ud spy summut wrong when there warn’t not a mossel o’ harm;

An’ she didn’t not solidly meän I wur gawin’ that waäy to the bad,
Fur the gell (20) a was as howry a trollope as iver traäpes’d i’ the squad.

But Moother was free of ’er tongue, as I offens ’ev tell’d ’er mysen,
Sa I kep i’ my chair, fur I thowt she was nobbut a-rilin’ ma then.

An’ I says ‘ I’d be good to tha, Bess, if tha’d onywaäys let ma be good,’
But she skelpt ma haäfe ower i’ the chair, an’ screeäd like a Howl gone wud (21)—

‘Ya mun run fur the lether. (22) Git oop, if ya’re onywaäys good for owt.’
And I says ‘If I beänt noäwaäys—not nowadaäys—good fur nowt—

Yit I beänt sich a Nowt (23) of all Nowts as ’ull hallus do as ’e’s bid.’
‘But the stairs is afire,’ she said; then I seed ’er a-cryin’, I did.

An’ she beäld ‘Ya mun saäve little Dick, an’ be sharp about it an’ all,’
Sa I runs to the yard fur a lether, an’ sets ’im ageän the wall,

An’ I claums an’ I mashes the winder hin, when I gits to the top,
But the heat druv hout i’ my heyes till I feäld mysen ready to drop.

Thy Moother was howdin’ the lether, an’ tellin’ me not to be skeärd,
An’ I wasn’t afeärd, or I thinks leäst-waäys as I wasn’t afeärd;

But I couldn’t see fur the smoäke wheere thou was a-liggin, my lad,
An’ Roäver was theere i’ the chaumber a-yowlin’ an’ yaupin’ like mad;

An’ thou was a-beälin’ likewise, an’ a-squeälin’, as if tha was bit,
An’ it wasn’t a bite but a burn, fur the merk’s (24) o’ thy shou’der yit;

Then I call’d out Roä, Roä, Roä, thaw I didn’t haäfe think as ’e’d ’ear,
But ’e coom’d thruf the fire wi my bairn i’ ’is mouth to the winder theere!

He coom’d like a Hangel o’ marcy as soon as ’e ’eard ’is naäme,
Or like tother Hangel i’ Scriptur ’at summun seed i’ the flaäme,

When summun ’ed hax’d fur a son, an’ ’e promised a son to she,
An’ Roä was as good as the Hangel i’ saävin’ a son fur me.

Sa I browt tha down, an’ I says ‘I mun gaw up agean fur Roä.’
‘Gaw up ageän fur the varmint?’ I tell’d ’er ‘Yeäs I mun goä.’

An’ I claumb’d up ageän to the winder, an’ clemm’d (25) owd Roä by the ’eäd,
An’ ’is ’air coom’d off i’ my ’ands an’ I taäked ’im at fust fur dead;

Fur ’e smell’d like a herse a-singein’, an’ seeäm’d as blind as a poop,
An’ haäfe on ’im bare as a bublin’. (26) I couldn’t wakken ’im oop,

But I browt ’im down, an’ we got to the barn, fur the barn wouldn’t burn
Wi’ the wind blawin’ hard tother waäy, an’ the wind wasn’t like to turn.

An’ I kep a-callin’ o’ Roä till ’e waggled ’is taäil fur a bit,
But the cocks kep a-crawin’ an’ crawin’ all night, an’ I ’ears ’em yit;

An’ the dogs was a-yowlin’ all round, and thou was a-squeälin’ thysen,
An’ Moother was naggin’ an’ groänin’ an moänin’ an’ naggin’ ageän;

An’ I ’eärd the bricks an’ the baulks (27) rummle down when the roof gev waäy,
Fur the fire was a-raägin’ an’ raävin’ an’ roärin’ like judgment daäy.

Warm enew theere sewer-ly, but the barn was as cowd as owt,
An’ we cuddled and huddled togither, an’ happt (28) wersens oop as we mowt.

An’ I browt Roä round, but Moother ’ed beän sa soäk’d wi’ the thaw
’At she cotch’d ’er death o’ cowd that night, poor soul, i’ the straw.

Haäfe o’ the parish runn’d oop when the rigtree (29) was tummlin’ in—
Too laäte—but it’s all ower now—hall hower—an’ ten year sin;

Too laäte, tha mun git tha to bed, but I’ll coom an’ I’ll squench the light,
Fur we moänt ’ev naw moor fires—and soa little Dick, good-night.

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