Padraic Colum

The Tin-Whistle Player

Padraic Colum was an Irish poet, novelist, dramatist, biographer, playwright, children's author and collector of folklore.

'Tis long since, long since, since I heard
A tin-whistle played,
And heard the tunes, the ha'penny tunes
That nobody made!

The tunes that were before Cendfind
And Cir went Ireland's rounds
That were before the surety
That strings have given sounds!

And now is standing in the mist,
And jigging backward there,
Shrilling with fingers and with breath,
A tin-whistle player!

He has hare's eyes, a long face rimmed
Around with badger-grey;
Aimless, like cries of mountain birds
The tunes he has to play

The tunes that are for stretches bare,
And men whose lives are lone
And I had seen that face of his
Sculptured on cross of stone,
That long face, in a place of graves
With nettles overgrown.