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A beautiful, sad and moving poem by Eleanor Farjeon

Mrs. Malone by Eleanor Farjeon

Mrs . Malone
Lived hard by a wood
All on her lonesome
As nobody should.
With her crust on a plate
And her pot on the coal
And none but herself
To converse with, poor soul.
In a shawl and a hood
She got sticks out-o’-door,
On a bit of old sacking
She slept on the floor,
And nobody, nobody
Asked how she fared
Or knew how she managed,
For nobody cared.
Why make a pother
About an old crone?
What for should they bother
With Mrs. Malone?

One Monday in winter
With snow on the ground
So thick that a footstep
Fell without sound,
She heard a faint frostbitten
Peck on the pane
And went to the window
To listen again.
There sat a cock-sparrow
Bedraggled and weak,
With half-open eyelid
And ice on his beak.
She threw up the sash
And she took the bird in,
And mumbled and fumbled it
Under her chin.
“Ye’re all of a smother,
Ye’re fair overblown!
I’ve room fer another,”
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Tuesday while eating
Her dry morning slice
With the sparrow a-picking
( “Ain’t company nice!”)
She heard on her doorpost
A curious scratch,
And there was a cat
With its claw on the latch.
It was hungry and thirsty
And thin as a lath,
It mewed and it mowed
On the slithery path.
She threw the door open
And warmed up some pap,
And huddled and cuddled it
In her old lap.
“There, there, little brother,
Ye poor skin-an’-bone,
There’s room fer another,”
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Wednesday while all of them
Crouched on the mat
With a crumb for the sparrow,
A sip for the cat,
There was wailing and whining
Outside in the wood,
And there sat a vixen
With six of her brood.
She was haggard and ragged
And worn to a shred,
And her half-dozen babies
Were only half-fed,
But Mrs. Malone, crying
“My! ain’t they sweet!”
Happed them and lapped them
And gave them to eat.
“You warm yerself, mother,
Ye’re cold as a stone!
There’s room fer another,”
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Thursday a donkey
Stepped in off the road
With sores on his withers
From bearing a load.
Come Friday when icicles
Pierced the white air
Down from the mountainside
Lumbered a bear.
For each she had something,
If little, to give —
“Lord knows, the poor critters
Must all of ’em live.”
She gave them her sacking,
Her hood and her shawl,
Her loaf and her teapot —
She gave them her all.
“What with one thing and t’other
Me fambily’s grown,
And there’s room fer another,”
Said Mrs. Malone.

Come Saturday evening
When time was to sup
Mrs. Malone
Had forgot to sit up.
The cat said meeow ,
And the sparrow said peep ,
The vixen, she’s sleeping ,
The bear, let her sleep .
On the back of the donkey
They bore her away,
Through trees and up mountains
Beyond night and day,
Till come Sunday morning
They brought her in state
Through the last cloudbank
As far as the Gate.
“Who is it,” asked Peter,
“You have with you there?”
And donkey and sparrow,
Cat, vixen, and bear

Exclaimed, “Do you tell us
Up here she’s unknown?
It’s our mother, God bless us!
It’s Mrs. Malone
Whose havings were few
And whose holding was small
And whose heart was so big
It had room for us all.”
Then Mrs. Malone
Of a sudden awoke,
She rubbed her two eyeballs
And anxiously spoke:
“Where am I, to goodness,
And what do I see?
My dears, let’s turn back,
This ain’t no place fer me!”
But Peter said, “Mother
Go in to the Throne.
There’s room for another
One, Mrs. Malone.”

source: poetrynook.com

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