A one-legged, one-armed, one-eyed man, A bundle of rags upon a crutch, Stumbled on windy Cruachan Cursing the wind. It was as much As the one sturdy leg could do To keep him upright while he cursed. He had counted, where long years ago Queen Maeves nine Maines had been nursed, A pair of lapwings, one old sheep, And not a house to the plains edge, When close to his right hand a heap Of grey stones and a rocky ledge Reminded him that he could make, If he but shifted a few stones, A shelter till the daylight broke. But while he fumbled with the stones They toppled over; Were it not I have a lucky wooden shin I had been hurt; and toppling brought Before his eyes, where stones had been, A dark deep hole in the rocks face. He gave a gasp and thought to run, Being certain it was no right place But the Hell Mouth at Cruachan Thats stuffed with all thats old and bad, And yet stood still, because inside He had seen a red-haired jolly lad In some outlandish coat beside A ladle and a tub of beer, Plainly no phantom by his look. So with a laugh at his own fear He crawled into that pleasant nook. Young Red-head stretched himself to yawn And murmured, May God curse the night Thats grown uneasy near the dawn So that it seems even I sleep light; And who are you that wakens me? Has one of Maeves nine brawling sons Grown tired of his own company? But let him keep his grave for once I have to find the sleep I have lost. And then at last being wide awake, I took you for a brawling ghost, Say what you please, but from daybreak Ill sleep another century. The beggar deaf to all but hope Went down upon a hand and knee And took the wooden ladle up And would have dipped it in the beer But the other pushed his hand aside, Before you have dipped it in the beer That sacred Goban brewed, he cried, Id have assurance that you are able To value beer, I will have no fool Dipping his nose into my ladle Because he has stumbled on this hole In the bad hour before the dawn. If you but drink that beer and say I will sleep until the winters gone, Or maybe, to Midsummer Day You will sleep that length; and at the first I waited so for that or this, Because the weather was a-cursed Or I had no woman there to kiss, And slept for half a year or so; But year by year I found that less Gave me such pleasure Id forgo Even a half hours nothingness, And when at one years end I found I had not waked a single minute, I chose this burrow under ground. I will sleep away all Time within it: My sleep were now nine centuries But for those mornings when I find The lapwing at their foolish cries And the sheep bleating at the wind As when I also played the fool. The beggar in a rage began Upon his hunkers in the hole, Its plain that you are no right man To mock at everything I love As if it were not worth the doing. Id have a merry life enough If a good Easter wind were blowing, And though the winter wind is bad I should not be too down in the mouth For anything you did or said If but this wind were in the south. But the other cried, You long for spring Or that the wind would shift a point And do not know that you would bring, If time were suppler in the joint, Neither the spring nor the south wind But the hour when you shall pass away And leave no smoking wick behind, For all life longs for the Last Day And theres no man but cocks his ear To know when Michaels trumpet cries That flesh and bone may disappear, And souls as if they were but sighs, And there be nothing but God left; But I alone being blessed keep Like some old rabbit to my cleft And wait Him in a drunken sleep. He dipped his ladle in the tub And drank and yawned and stretched him out. The other shouted, You would rob My life of every pleasant thought And every comfortable thing And so take that and that. Thereon He gave him a great pummelling, But might have pummelled at a stone For all the sleeper knew or cared; And after heaped the stones again And cursed and prayed, and prayed and cursed: Oh God if he got loose! And then In fury and in panic fled From the Hell Mouth at Cruachan And gave God thanks that overhead The clouds were brightening with the dawn.