Since today is St. Patrick’s Day I thought I’d share another poem by a native of Ireland. This whimsical poem paints the wind to be playful goddess who kicks shingles from roofs while carrying away a man’s hat. I don’t know that many of us would think it too funny if the wind blew shingles off our roof!
Bill O’Donnell’s Hat by Michael McGovern
The goddess, Wind, her antics played
O’er streets and chimney tops
In spite of “law and order” and
The city’s force of “cops.”
She waltzed among the spires upon
Our churches as she went
And kicked the shingles from the roofs
As if on mischief bent.
Her whisking dress the sidewalks swept;
She stood aside for none;
She slapped the people on their cheeks
And made the signboards groan.
And while she whistled, pushed and smote
With rude, ungentle pat,
The flirting huzzy ran away
With Bill O’Donnell’s hat.
The barehead Bill made efforts to
Regain his flying tile,
With which she played a Rugby game
In good old-fashioned style.
Through leading streets and alley-ways
Of good and bad repute
She kicked the hat with nimble feet-
O’Donnell in pursuit.
Through narrow and suspicious lanes
He saw it bound and roll,
And then as if the goddess, Wind,
Would try to make a goal,
The hat would be effected by
Some unseen, sudden shock,
Which sent it soaring upward and
Across a street or block.
‘Twas Sunday, and the people thought-
(As people often think)
The barehead man were prowling ‘round
To get a private drink,
While Bill, with eyes upturned to
His hat that cleaved the air
Rushed on and muttered adjectives
The opposite of prayer.
The headdress went rebounding close
To churches and saloons,
Where Bill had often worshipped and
Imbibed on afternoons.
And running by the church ‘twas said,
“He’s come to make amends’
He’s on a barehead pilgrimage
To expiate his sins.
Bill’s threadbare nob, exposed unto
The racking zero breeze
Looked like a snowball peeping ‘bove
A fringe of forest trees
As up and down some hundred streets
He scampered, swearing that
Old Nick was playing football with
His brand new derby hat.
Some hundred boys and dogs rushed forth
And followed in the chase;
The “cops” went running after, too,
But found they had “no chase.”
And everyone who saw the hunt
To laughter was inclined,
Because the hat’s surprising jumps
Left Bill a mile behind.
Across the raging river went
The headgear at a bound,
And then was hurled back again
Across some mile of ground,
While hundreds stood and wondered at
The Wind-god’s giant play,
For furnace stacks and standpipes were
As molehills in its way.
The hat at length in battered shape,
As if exhausted, fell
The wind being weary of the fun,
So I’ve no more to tell.
And if my story is too long,
The reason why is that
The Wind had played such lengthy game
With Bill O’Donnell’s hat.