“A work such as this”

Is ní hé Dia cheap riamh an obair seo…

‘People sink,’ wrote Mr. Bishop; ‘they have no stamina left, they say  “It is the will of God” and die.’

The Great Hunger:  Ireland 1845-1852,  by Cecil Woodham-Smith(p. 180)

A work such as this could never be God’s:
Poor people evicted to stray on the roads–
Or to the dark poorhouse, where man and wife lie
In separate wards, locked apart till they die.

The children who always knew such loving care
Are snatched from their parents– no tenderness there;
Fed a watery soup as with hunger they cry,
With no mother to comfort– alone till they die.

The gentry, the great ones:  pity them if you can–
To God they must pay for this work of their hands,
And for the world’s poor men, whom riches pass by
As they serve their life’s sentence:  hard work till they die.

Since the blackened potatoes we’re scattered from home;
Now we rot in the poorhouse or to foreign lands roam.
Stacked in graves on the hillsides in our hundreds we lie–
Oh God up in heaven, won’t you answer our cry?

From the Irish of Máire Ni Dhroma(Mary Drum); translated by Peter Kenny



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