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The Muckleman by Shane O'Connor

Who was it fussed the honey bees?
Who trod the taters on the floor?
Who chipped the plate and crack’d the egg?
Who slopped the milk and swore?

Who played down by the rank green pool,
Where they know they should not play?
Who wandered far in the wild, wild wood,
Where they know they should not stray?

Who knows of everything you’ve done
But hoped no-one would see?
Who is it kens of all these things?
The Muckleman, tis he.

Where dwells Weird Willy? None can say.
Where in the wood? Nay, none can tell.
His den’s more deep than badger’s sett,
More deep than druid’s well.

Down to his stye the dark ditch drops,
Down from the hollow-bottomed shaw.
There he dwells in the under-grown,
A bro’d round stoon’s his door.

Upon the eve of Yuling
Willy stirs within his lair,
Takes up his sack and walking stick
And mounts the twisting stair.

He climbs the ditch and parts the twigs,
Beware his clutching claws!
Beware the hissing of his breath,
The snapping of his jaws!

The yard dog growls a warning
When the wolf comes prowling near,
But he wavers not a whisker
Should the Muckleman appear.

Geese and hens they hardly heed him
If they hear him stealing by.
In the barn the beasts at slumber
There contentedly they lie.

What’s that scratching at the shutter?
What’s that rattling of the latch?
What’s that climbing on the chimney?
What’s that scrabbling in the thatch?

What’s that clatter on the woodpile?
What’s that hoof-clop by the door?
What’s that stirring of the curtain?
What’s that tapping on the floor?

Don’t lay awake to hear him, bairns,
But pass the night a-sleeping.
You’ll see him not, nor catch him out
When Nimbleshanks comes creeping.

Good children who will well behave
May on the morrow wake with glee,
And find them such a bonny gift
As e’er they’d wont to see.

But wicked bairns and lazy bairns,
Them ill for ill will Willy pay.
He stoffs them in his lodly sack
And carries them away.

And when they wake, when comes the day,
They’ll find them locked in Willy’s den,
And how yon Nimbleshanks be fed
Tis no-one who can ken.

So hush my bairns and heed my warning,
Nimbleshanks will stir tonight!
Sleep until the day comes dawning,
Sleep until the morning light.

–Shane O'Connor

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