Ballad of the Harp Weaver

Son said my mother when I was knee high

You need of clothes to cover you and not a rag have I

There’s nothing in the house to make a boy’s britches

Nor shears to cut a cloth with nor thread to take stitches

There’s nothing in the house but a leaf end of rye

And the harp with a with the woman’s head nobody will by and she began to cry

That was in the early fall and when came the late fall

Son she said the sight of you makes your mother’s blood crawl

Little skinny shoulder blades stickin’ through your clothes

And where you get a jacket from God above knows

It’s lucky for me lad your daddy’s in the ground

And can’t see the way I let his son go around and she made a queer sound

That was in the late fall when the winter came

I’d not a pair of bridges nor a shirt to my name

I couldn’t go to school or out of doors to play

And all the other little boys passed our way

Son said my mother come climb into my lap

And I’ll chave your little knees while you take a nap

And oh but we were silly for half an hour or more

Me with my long legs draggin’ on the floor

I rocked rocked rocked to a mother goose rhyme

Oh but we were happy for half an hour’s time

But there was I a great boy and what would folks say

To hear my mother singin’ me to sleep all day in such a daft way

Men say the winter was bad that year fuel was scarce and food was dear

A wind with a wolf’s head howled about our door

And we burned up the chairs and sat upon the floor

All that was left us was a chair we couldn’t break

And the harp with the woman’s head nobody would take for song or pity sake

The night before Christmas I cried with the cold

I cried myself to sleep like a two year old

And in the deep night I felt my mother rise

And stare down upon me with love in her eyes

I saw my mother sitting on the one good chair

A light falling on her face from I couldn’t tell where

Looking nineteen and not a day older

And the harp with the woman’s head leaned against her shoulder

Her thin fingers moving in the thin tall strings

Were weave weave weaving wonderful things

Many bright threads from where I couldn’t see

Were running through the harp strings rapidly

And gold threads whistlin’ through my mother’s hands

I saw the web grow and the pattern expand

She wove a child’s jacket and when it was done

She laid it on the floor and wove another one

She wove a red cloak so regal to see

She’s made it for a king’s son I said and not for me but I knew it was for me

She wove a pair of bridges and quicker than that

She wove a pair of boots a little cocked hat

She wove a pair of mittens she wove a little blouse

She wove all night in the still cold house

She sang as she worked and the harp strings spoke

But her voice never faltered and the thread never broke

But when I awoke there sat my mother

With the harp against her shoulder lookin’ nineteen and not a day older

A smile about her lips and a light about her head

And her hands in the harp strings frozen dead

And piled up beside her toppling to the skies

Were the clothes of a king’s son just my size

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