Padraic Colum

Here you will find the Long Poem Old Men Complaining of poet Padraic Colum

Old Men Complaining

First Old Man 
He threw his crutched stick down: there came 
Into his face the anger flame, 
And he spoke viciously of one 
Who thwarted him?his son?s son. 
He turned his head away.??I hate 
Absurdity of language, prate 
From growing fellows. We?d not stay 
About the house the whole of a day 
When we were young, 
Keeping no job and giving tongue! 
?Not us in troth! We would not come 
For bit or sup, but stay from home 
If we gave answers, or we?d creep 
Back to the house, and in we?d peep 
Just like a corncrake. 
?My grandson and his comrades take 
A piece of coal from you, from me 
A log, or sod of turf, maybe; 
And in some empty place they?ll light 
A fire, and stay there all night, 
A wisp of lads! Now understand 
The blades of grass under my hand 
Would be destroyed by company! 
There?s no good company: we go 
With what is lowest to the low! 
He stays up late, and how can he 
Rise early? Sure he lags in bed, 
And she is worn to a thread 
With calling him?his grandmother. 
She?s an old woman, and she must make 
Stir when the birds are half awake 
In dread he?d lose this job like the other!?

Second Old Man 
?They brought yon fellow over here, 
And set him up for an overseer: 
Though men from work are turned away 
That thick-necked fellow draws full pay? 
Three pounds a week?. They let burn down 
The timber yard behind the town 
Where work was good; though firemen stand 
In boots and brasses big and grand 
The crow of a cock away from the place. 
And with the yard they let burn too 
The clock in the tower, the clock I knew 
As well as I know the look in my face.? 
Third Old Man 

?The fellow you spoke of has broken his bounds? 
He came to skulk inside of these grounds: 
Behind the bushes he lay down 
And stretched full hours in the sun. 
He rises now, and like a crane 
He looks abroad. He?s off again: 
Three pounds a week, and still he owes 
Money in every street he goes, 
Hundreds of pounds where we?d not get 
The second shilling of a debt.? 

First Old Man 
?Old age has every impediment 
Vexation and discontent; 
The rich have more than we: for bit 
The cut of bread, and over it 
The scrape of hog?s lard, and for sup 
Warm water in a cup. 
But different sorts of feeding breaks 
The body more than fasting does 
With pains and aches. 
?I?m not too badly off, for I 
Have pipe and tobacco, a place to lie, 
A nook to myself; but from my hand 
Is taken the strength to back command? 
I?m broken, and there?s gone from me 
The privilege of authority.? 
I heard them speak? 
The old men heavy on the sod, 
Letting their angers come 
Between them and the thought of God.