Yn Tarroo Ushtey: Prologue


The hill was steep, the road was hard
As upwards climbed the weary bard.
He dragged unwilling feet along
With ne’er a thought of word or song
But in his heart a lurking dread
That he would never reach a bed.
He was too old to spend the night
Beneath a hedge till morning light,
And in the winter of the year
When wind and rain spread doubtful cheer.
The lowering sky was growing dark,
The mountain loomed like monster start,
And at this side as in a dream
He heard the chatter of the stream.
He little knew this winding road
But hoped it led to some abode
Where he could rest his tired frame
And sleep the hours till morning came.
The roadway dipped and narrower grew,
The stream was hushed, the trees were few;
The wind fell still, the raindrops ceased,
No sound was heard from man or beast.
It seemed as if a sudden spell
Had fallen over field and dell.
The road again began to rise,
But not so steeply, and his eyes
When lifted saw a welcome sight,
The glow of lamps shed through the night.
Hard by his side there glimmered white
A gate, and curving out of sight
A grave drive with weeds bedight.
He entered in and came at last
To the front door which was shut fast.
With fist upraised he gave a knock,
And heard the sound of turning lock.
The door swung in and opened wide,
The farmer bade him step inside,
For travellers were welcome there.
They bade him take the elbow chair,
Regaled him with their supper fare,
And soon with all the food supplied
He said that he was satisfied.
The farmer’s daughter cleared the board,
The farmer’s dogs beneath it snored.
The farmer’s wife made up the fire;
The farmer’s sons did all retire,
Their work would rouse them from their bed
Before the sun’s first light was shed.
The farmer lit his pipe and spat
And turned to where the old bard sat,
And asked in tones all meek and mild
As if he spoke to frightened child,
If he would give them tale of song
To help the final hour along.
The bard, refreshed, could not refuse
And in his mind a tale did choose
That should his list’ners’ interest hold.
Thus he spake out, in manner bold.