People in the Legend
FARDORROUGHA A Farmer
PAUDEEN Fardorroughas Servant: a Fool
SHEILA Fardorroughas Wife
AISLINN A Child
SHAUN o' THE BOG A Poor Man
The action passes in a farmer's house in the old times.
SCENE: The interior of FARDORROUGHA'S house. The door at back R.; the hearth L.; the window R. is only conventionally represented.
What is actually shown is a bin for corn (corn in the sense of any kind of grain, as the word is used in Ireland the breadstuff and the symbol of fertility), shelves with vessels, benches, and a shrine. The bin projects from back C.; the shelves
with vessels are each side of the bin; the shrine is R.; it holds a small statue of the Blessed Virgin, and a rosary of large beads hangs from it; the benches are R. and L. One is at the conventional fireplace, and the other is down from the conventional door.
All the persons concerned in the action are on the scene when it opens, and they remain on the scene. They only enter the action when they go up to where the bin is. Going back to the places they had on the benches takes them out of the action.
On the bench near the hearth sit the people of FARDORROUGHA'S household FARDORROUGHA, SHEILA, PAUDEEN, AISLINN. On the bench near the door sit the strangers three women, one of whom has a child with her, and SHAUN o' THE BOG. The people are dressed in greys and browns, and brown is the colour of the interior. The three women and SHAUN o' THE BOG are poorly dressed; the women are barefooted. PAUDEEN is dressed rudely, and sandals of hide are bound across his feet. FARDORROUGHA,
SHEILA, and AISLINN are comfortably dressed.
They're moaning still,
The cattle. Will they never stop
Their moaning, Master Fardorrougha?
We could drive the cattle
To another place, but the house would not be safe
While we were gone; we know well, Paudeen,
There are those who would break in my door.
Aye, the people
Are bad from want. The people have to watch
The black rain and it falling all the day.
We've hay enough
For our own cows. Give them a lock
Of what the widow of Seumas saved.
Is it that
That's under the hurdles behind the hedge?
Aye. She puts lean beasts upon me, and she owes me
I'll do your bidding, Master.
(PAUDEEN goes back to his place on the bench. AISLINN comes to the bin.)
What child is this?
Aislinn is my name.
Who was it
Gave you that name? It is strange to name
Anyone in the world Aislinn: Dream.
My own people
Gave me that name. And now you'll wonder
What brings me to your house. Sheila, your wife,
Has brought me here to keep her company.
And you are welcome. There are no young ones here.
I am well used
To doing things about a house, and I
Can sweep the floor, and make a fire, too,
And mind the children.
There are no children in the house you've come to.
Are you not, child, afeard of me?
No, Fardorrougha, I am not afeard.
You are like
The brown bird in the cage.
What has Sheila
Upon her altar? I would like to see:
It is the image of the Mother o God!
O why will the rain,
Mother of God, keep falling? It destroyed
The harvest! Why will the black rain keep falling now?
(FARDORROUGHA goes back to the bench. SHEILA goes to AISLINN.)
It is the will of God.
God's will is set
Against us all; it is set against
The cattle in the field, and it was they
Stood by His crib; they're moaning always now:
He has forgotten them.
Do not be listening to
The cattle moaning; do not be watching
The black rain and it falling all the day.
You He has not forgotten.
God has not forgotten me, Aislinn.
If He left
Your fields to the rain, He knows that you
Have a good roof and plenty under it.
To have them is no sign
That God remembers one: I used to look
Upon my roof and riches, and yet say,
"You have forgotten me, Almighty God!"
And could you say that
When there was corn: "You have forgotten me!"?
When I would look
Upon my fields and they heavy with the crop,
"You have remembered the furrows," I would say,
"And they are fruitful, but you have forgotten
The woman Sheila'"
And now when the furrows are forgotten He
Remembers me. O Aislinn, child,
Your arms around me I would have you near:
Your face before me; I would have a face
Like yours, but glad; a child's face glad and bright!
(PAUDEEN goes to the bin and opens it.)
It's empty, and it will take some filling.
It's empty, and you could put more than a capful in it.
It's empty, and it will hold an apronful.
What are you doing at the bin, Paudeen?
Making it ready to put corn in it.
"Better have the corn in the bin," said he,
"Than in the barn, after what happened
In the barn," said he.
What was it happened?
"And only Gorav, my good dog," said he,
"Got the man by the throat,
There would be a thief in the parish, and a poor man," said he.
The hard, hard man!
"There's a good door to my house," said he,
"And a bin's within, and if the priest," said he,
"Can't put the fear of God into the people,
Gorav, maybe, can," said he.
That's empty there's not a grain inside it.
(PAUDEEN goes back to his place on the bench.)
He has all
The corn that's in the country, and he sets
Gorav to guard it. The people bring their cattle
Before he gives them corn to keep them living.
I'm not afeard
He is not set
In hardness yet; he will give back in armfuls
What he took in his hands.
Will it be long till then?
Not long, not long;
The fruit is ripening that will bring him to
Himself. Oh, Aislnn, do not think
Too hardly of my man; there was no child
About our house, Aislinn!
(FARDORROUGHA goes to the bin, bringing with him a sack of corn.)
Woman of the house, be careful that you put
The big bolt on the door when it gets dark.
Let it not come
Between you and your rest, Fardorrougha.
To give them corn even for what they bring.
Look at Aislinn:
Would you not let it all go with the wind
To have a child like Aislinn?
Woman, content yourself
With what is given.
God has given us
House and mill, land and riches, but not
Then let what is not
Trouble us not.
Aislinn was with me all the day; Aislinn
Will fill the bin for you. Aislinn, take
A measure off the dresser, and help Fardorrougha
Empty the sack.
It was a woman, surely,
That named her Aislinn: Dream.
She is a biddable child, and one that's good
About a house.
She'll have no need
To do much while she's here.
Isn't it well, Fardorrougha,
To see a child that isn't white-faced?
The corn into the bin!
Isn't it a comfort
To see a child like Aislinn here? Then think
Of a glad, bright child!
I have no thought
To go that far. That world,
The world of bud and blossom, has gone by;
There's only now,
The ragged sky, the poor and wasted ground
No, Fardorrougha, no!
Listen to me, Fardorrougha!
. . . And broken beings like Paudeen!
Well, my woman.
I have something,
Fardorrougha, to tell you.
And I am listening, woman.
(PAUDEEN goes to the bin.)
Shaun o' the Bog is on the pass
Before the barn.
Before the barn? Is it me he wants?
It's for the woman
Of the house he's asking. "Is she by herself?"
Says he to me.
She's not by herself
If that's the chance he's seeking. You, Sheila,
Had something else you would have said to me:
"Loose the corn you have gathered," maybe.
Never say it,
Or the harsh word that has not been, will be
I'll see the man, and if he wants to make
A bargain that is fair, it's with myself
That he must make it.
(FARDORROUGHA goes back to the bench. PAUDEEN has some hay in his hands. He has taken it from under where he sat.)
Where did he say
I was to put the hay that was under the hedge?
Where the cows are. Oh,
How can your mind keep on the hay? I know:
It's because you are simple! Aye . . .
Why do they call you fool Why
Do they think he's foolish, Aislinn?
It is because
His mind keeps on the one thing only.
He can see
Only the hay that's in his hands. But then
They're all foolish! Paudeen, I tell you
They who gathered thoughts while in the womb
Are foolish now as you are.
(drawing his foot across the floor) But you said
I was a clean and well-built boy, anyhow,
Woman of the house.
Yes, I said it.
(PAUDEEN goes back to the bench)
I'm not afeard
Of Fardorrougha : I do not think him hard.
His heart opened to you, and that's a sign
Yes, that's a sign I take.
And do you think that he would ever give
The harsh word to you?
O Aislinn, pray:
Pray that it will never come to that; the thought
Of the harsh word from him has come to me
Again and again, like some dark bird.
And have you never had
The harsh word from your man?
The harsh word would be the end of all.
Listen to me:
Outside the rain
Is falling, and its desolation
Is all around me. If he gave me
The harsh word, the desolation
Would fill me, then what fruit could be?
O glad, bright, shining, tender
Apple-blossom, what fruit would you make
And the tree of you under desolation?
(The THREE WOMEN leave the bench and come to the bin. One has a child with her.)
What can I do for you, women?
We have eaten
Nettles and roots since the want came, we
And our children.
Our children droop. You do not know what it is
To see a child droop.
God has not opened
Doors of madness and pain for you.
(SHEILA takes a vessel and holds it to a child who drinks.)
Do not forget my child.
What is in my house, women.
(She opens the bin and fills a woman s apron with corn. The other women hold out their aprons. SHEILA fills them.)
Heap up store for you, and may you
Have clan with store.
May God be with your husband when his hand
Scatters the seed, and may his labour be
And may your own labour be
Light, and watched by the Mother of God!
Women, who am I
That you should pray for me!
(The women go to the bench. SHEILA stands quiet. AISLINN goes to her.)
Now there is no more
Of Fardorrougha's corn.
But God will have love
And pity for us.
The bin is emptied. Will Fardorrougha . . .
There is the cattles' moan; here is Paudeen
Who brings them hay Paudeen who is
With broken things' My heart is heavy again!
Fardorrougha. . . .
Fardorrougha' I had forgotten him.
Protect me, God!
The rain, the rain! The black and ragged sky,
The poor and wasted ground how could there be
Any but Paudeen's like?
(going to bin) But you said,
Yourself, I was a clean and well-built boy.
I said it. And now, Paudeen,
Open the bin.
(PAUDEEN ofens the front of the bin; it is shown to be empty.)
Oh, what will we tell
Fardorrougha? Can any of you think
Of a story to tell him?
We can tell him
No story at all.
But we might
Keep him from opening of the bin.
No, Aislinn, no:
No good would be in that.
It was the right I did. Their children now
Crowd round them. O children, I would give
Bread to you again, and over again!
Was one of them who had their minds upon
One thing only; I hardened, too,
To make things easy for myself. It is not
"God protect me," I should be saying now,
But "God forgive me!"
(SHAUN o' THE BOG comes from the bench. He goes to the bin.)
Fardorrougha told me
To wait upon him here.
And what has Fardorrougha
Promised you, Shaun?
The corn in the bin. And I have given
My wool and loom for it.
He has not what he thinks he has, but you
Will not go empty because of that.
It is well for Aislinn
To be with you in this house.
Aislinn, go talk to Shaun; he need not be
Anxious nor fretted.
Nor need you be
Anxious nor fretted, Sheila.
I am not anxious any more, Aislinn.
(FARDORROUGHA goes to the bin.)
The corn is here that I will give you, Shaun,
For wool and loom; open, you, the bin,
And see what's in it.
(SHAUN opens .front of bin. A very great quantity of corn gushes out.)
I did not think
So much was there. He'll not get all
For wool and loom; I will not wrong myself;
As much as half is fair.
(He turns to the bin and sees that SHAUN, SHEILA, and AISLINN are kneeling beside the heap of corn.)
Why are you kneeling, Shaun?
I kneel because I know
My children will be fed.
Why are you kneeling, Sheila?
I kneel because I know
The fields will break to corn because of the love
And pity God has for us.
Why are you kneeling, Aislinn?
I kneel because I know
A miracle has happened; Sheila need not dread
The harsh word from you any more nor never.
An air comes from it all a smell of growing
Green, growing corn; and I mind that I
Brought Sheila from her mother's to this house
Across a field of corn that smelled sweet, sweet,
And whispered lovingly. I am greatly changed,
And often I am strange even to myself.
What good 's in what I've gathered? It's between
Myself and her; but when she rises now
Nothing will be between us; at what she'll say
All I have gathered I shall give away.
(With SHEILA, AISLINN and SHAUN still kneeling, the scene closes.)