Verse > Anthologies > Louis Untermeyer, ed. > Modern British Poetry
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Louis Untermeyer, ed. (1885–1977). Modern British Poetry.  1920.
 
W. M. Letts. 1887–
 
150. Grandeur
 
POOR Mary Byrne is dead, 
  An' all the world may see 
Where she lies upon her bed 
  Just as fine as quality. 
  
She lies there still and white,         5
  With candles either hand 
That'll guard her through the night: 
  Sure she never was so grand. 
  
She holds her rosary, 
  Her hands clasped on her breast.  10
Just as dacint as can be 
  In the habit she's been dressed. 
  
In life her hands were red 
  With every sort of toil, 
But they're white now she is dead,  15
  An' they've sorra mark of soil. 
  
The neighbours come and go, 
  They kneel to say a prayer, 
I wish herself could know 
  Of the way she's lyin' there.  20
  
It was work from morn till night, 
  And hard she earned her bread: 
But I'm thinking she's a right 
  To be aisy now she's dead. 
  
When other girls were gay,  25
  At wedding or at fair, 
She'd be toiling all the day, 
  Not a minyit could she spare. 
  
An' no one missed her face, 
  Or sought her in a crowd,  30
But to-day they throng the place 
  Just to see her in her shroud. 
  
The creature in her life 
  Drew trouble with each breath; 
She was just "poor Jim Byrne's wife"—  35
  But she's lovely in her death. 
  
I wish the dead could see 
  The splendour of a wake, 
For it's proud herself would be 
  Of the keening that they make.  40
  
Och! little Mary Byrne, 
  You welcome every guest, 
Is it now you take your turn 
  To be merry with the rest? 
  
I'm thinking you'd be glad,  45
  Though the angels make your bed, 
Could you see the care we've had 
  To respect you—now you're dead. 
 
 
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