Here you will find the Long Poem Asses of poet Padraic Colum
'I KNOW where I'd get An ass that would do, If I had the money A pound or two.' Said a ragged man To my uncle one day; He got the money And went on his way. And after that time In market or fair I'd look at the asses That might be there. And wonder what kind Of an ass would do For a ragged man With a pound or two. O the black and roan horses the street would fill, Their manes and tails streaming, and they standing still, And their owners, the men of estate, would be there, Refusing gold guineas for a colt or a mare. And one, maybe, riding up and down like a squire So that buyers from Dublin might see and admire The hunter or racer come to be sold And be willing and ready to pay out their gold. With men slouching beside them and buyers not near It's no wonder the asses held down head and ear. They had been sold or in by-ways bought For a few half-crowns tied up in a knot, And no one so poor as to buy one might come To that fair that had horses so well prized at home! And then it fell out That at Arva or Scrabbey, At some down-county fair, Or Mohill or Abbey, On two asses I happened Without duress or dole They were there in the market, A dam and her foal. And the owner, a woman, Did not slouch or stand, But in her cart sitting Was as grand as the grand; Like a queen out of Connacht From her toe to her tip, Like proud Crania Uaile On the deck of her ship. And her hair 'twas a mane: The blackberries growing Out of the hedge-rows Have the sheen it was showing, There kind was with kind Like the flowers in the grasses If the owner was fine, As fine were her asses. White, white was the mother As a dusty white road; Black on back and on shoulders The cross-marking showed. She was tall she could carry A youth stout of limb, Or bear down from her mountain The bride decked for him! Such was the mother The foal's hide was brown, All fleecy and curly, And soft like bog-down; And it nuzzled its mother, Its head to her knee, And blue were its eyes Like the pools of the sea! Then I thought all the silver My uncle could draw Might not pay for the creatures That that day I saw; And I thought that old Damer, Who had troughs made of gold, Could not pay for the asses, The young and the old. And I think of them still When I see on the roads Asses unyoked, And asses with loads; One running and trotting, With harness loose, And a man striking and hitting Where his stick has use; And one with a hide Like a patched-on sack And two creels of turf Upon its back; And one in the market, Meek and brown, Its head to the cart-shafts That are down; Eating its forage A wisp of hay; In the dust of the highway Munching away; Unmarked in the market As might be a mouse Behind a low stool In a quiet house Then I think of the pair Horses might not surpass The dam and her foal, The white ass and brown ass.