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The Yellow Bittern (An Bunnán Buí)



The yellow bittern that never broke out
In a drinking bout might as well have drunk
His bones are thrown on a naked stone
Where he lived alone like a hermit monk
Oh yellow bittern, I pity your lot
Though they say that a sot like myself is cursed
I was sober a while, but I’ll drink and be wise
For fear I should die in the end of thirst

It’s not for the common birds that I’d mourn
The blackbird, the corncrake or the crane
But for the bittern that’s shy and apart
And drinks in the marsh from the lone bog drain
Oh if I had known you were near your death
While my breath held out I’d have run to you
‘Til a splash from the Lake of the Son of the Bird
Your soul would have stirred and waked anew

My darling told me to drink no more
Or my life would be o’er in a little short while
But I told her ’tis drink gives me health and strength
And will lengthen my road by many a mile
You see how the bird of the long smooth neck
Could get his death from the thirst at last
Come, son of my soul, and drink your cup
For you’ll get no sup when your life is past