Wailing, wailing, wailing, the wind over land and sea
And Willys voice in the wind, O mother, come out to me.
Why should he call me to-night, when he knows that I cannot go?
For the downs are as bright as day, and the full moon stares at the snow.
We should be seen, my dear; they would spy us out of the town.
The loud black nights for us, and the storm rushing over the down,
When I cannot see my own hand, but am led by the creak of the chain,
And grovel and grope for my son till I find myself drenched with the rain.
Anything fallen again? naywhat was there left to fall?
I have taken them home, I have numberd the bones, I have hidden them all.
What am I saying? and what are you? do you come as a spy?
Falls? what falls? who knows? As the tree falls so must it lie.
Who let her in? how long has she been? youwhat have you heard?
Why did you sit so quiet? you never have spoken a word.
Oto pray with meyesa ladynone of their spies
But the night has crept into my heart, and begun to darken my eyes.
Ahyou, that have lived so soft, what should you know of the night,
The blast and the burning shame and the bitter frost and the fright?
I have done it, while you were asleepyou were only made for the day.
I have gatherd my baby togetherand now you may go your way.
Nayfor its kind of you, Madam, to sit by an old dying wife.
But say nothing hard of my boy, I have only an hour of life.
I kissd my boy in the prison, before he went out to die.
They dared me to do it, he said, and he never has told me a lie.
I whipt him for robbing an orchard once when he was but a child
The farmer dared me to do it, he said; he was always so wild
And idleand couldnt be idlemy Willyhe never could rest.
The King should have made him a soldier, he would have been one of his best.
But he lived with a lot of wild mates, and they never would let him be good;
They swore that he dare not rob the mail, and he swore that he would;
And he took no life, but he took one purse, and when all was done
He flung it among his fellowsIll none of it, said my son.
I came into court to the Judge and the lawyers. I told them my tale,
Gods own truthbut they killd him, they killd him for robbing the mail.
They hangd him in chains for a showwe had always borne a good name
To be hangd for a thiefand then put awayisnt that enough shame?
Dust to dustlow downlet us hide! but they set him so high
That all the ships of the world could stare at him, passing by.
God ill pardon the hell-black raven and horrible fowls of the air,
But not the black heart of the lawyer who killd him and hangd him there.
And the jailer forced me away. I had bid him my last goodbye;
They had fastend the door of his cell. O mother! I heard him cry.
I couldnt get back tho I tried, he had something further to say,
And now I never shall know it. The jailer forced me away.
Then since I couldnt but hear that cry of my boy that was dead,
They seized me and shut me up: they fastend me down on my bed.
Mother, O mother!he calld in the dark to me year after year
They beat me for that, they beat meyou know that I couldnt but hear;
And then at the last they found I had grown so stupid and still
They let me abroad againbut the creatures had worked their will.
Flesh of my flesh was gone, but bone of my bone was left
I stole them all from the lawyersand you, will you call it a theft?
My baby, the bones that had suckd me, the bones that had laughed and had cried
Theirs? O no! they are minenot theirsthey had moved in my side.
Do you think I was scared by the bones? I kissd em, I buried em all
I cant dig deep, I am oldin the night by the churchyard wall.
My Willy ill rise up whole when the trumpet of judgment ill sound,
But I charge you never to say that I laid him in holy ground.
They would scratch him upthey would hang him again on the cursed tree.
Sin? O yeswe are sinners, I knowlet all that be,
And read me a Bible verse of the Lords good will toward men
Full of compassion and mercy, the Lordlet me hear it again;
Full of compassion and mercylong-suffering. Yes, O yes!
For the lawyer is born but to murderthe Saviour lives but to bless.
Hell never put on the black cap except for the worst of the worst,
And the first may be lastI have heard it in churchand the last may be first.
SufferingO long-sufferingyes, as the Lord must know,
Year after year in the mist and the wind and the shower and the snow.
Heard, have you? what? they have told you he never repented his sin.
How do they know it? are they his mother? are you of his kin?
Heard! have you ever heard, when the storm on the downs began,
The wind that ill wail like a child and the sea that ill moan like a man?
Election, Election and Reprobationits all very well.
But I go to-night to my boy, and I shall not find him in Hell.
For I cared so much for my boy that the Lord has lookd into my care,
And He means me Im sure to be happy with Willy, I know not where.
And if he be lostbut to save my soul, that is all your desire:
Do you think that I care for my soul if my boy be gone to the fire?
I have been with God in the darkgo, go, you may leave me alone
You never have borne a childyou are just as hard as a stone.
Madam, I beg your pardon! I think that you mean to be kind,
But I cannot hear what you say for my Willys voice in the wind
The snow and the sky so brighthe used but to call in the dark,
And he calls to me now from the church and not from the gibbet for hark!
Nayyou can hear it yourselfit is comingshaking the walls
Willythe moons in a cloudGood-night. I am going. He calls.
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