Mrs. Malone by Eleanor Farjeon (published between 1930-1940)
This was a poem from my childhood which now I'm starting to explore and tentatively feel into my first novel (Yes of course there are dogs in it) I realise affected me a lot. Do read it - it's a work of love and art!
All Hail Mrs Malone!
"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 pain and went to the window to listen again.
There sat a 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 numbled 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, and 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 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 family’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."
Reference: Farjeon, Eleanor. Elearnor Farjeon's Book - Stories - Verses - Plays. New York. Penguin. 1960.
Website reference: https://susansbooksandgifts.com/2013/01/10/poem-on-a-beautiful-woman-and-tale-of-joysorrow-by-eleanor-farjeon-january-2013/