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Cathleen Ni Houlihan

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Cathleen Ni Houlihan

by Yeats W.B.

Genre: Drama, Fantasy, Myth
Setting: England
Format of Original Source: Play
Recommended Adaptation Length: 60 Minutes

Candidate for Adaptation? Not Likely


PETER. I think I knew someone of that name once. Who was it, I wonder? It must have been someone I knew when I was a boy. No, no, I remember, I heard it in a song.

OLD WOMAN [who is standing in the doorway]. They are wondering that there were songs made for me; there have been many songs made for me. I heard one on the wind this morning. [She sings.]

Do not make a great keening

When the graves have been dug to-morrow.

Do not call the white-scarfed riders

To the burying that shall be to-morrow.

Do not spread food to call strangers

To the wakes that shall be to-morrow;

Do not give money for prayers

For the dead that shall die to-morrow.

They will have no need of prayers, they will have no need of prayers.

MICHAEL. I do not know what that song means, but tell me something I can do for you.

PETER. Come over to me, Michael.

MICHAEL. Hush, father, listen to her.

OLD WOMAN. It is a hard service they take that help me. Many that are red-cheeked now will be pale-cheeked; many that have been free to walk the hills and the bogs and the rushes will be sent to walk hard streets in far countries; many a good plan will be broken; many that have gathered money will not stay to spend it; many a child will be born, and there will be no father at its christening to give it a name. They that had red cheeks will have pale cheeks for my sake; and for all that, they will think they are well paid.

[She goes out; her voice is heard outside singing.]

They shall be remembered for ever,

They shall be alive for ever,

They shall be speaking for ever,

The people shall hear them for ever.

BRIDGET [to PETER]. Look at him, Peter; he has the look of a man that has got the touch. [Raising her voice.] Look here, Michael, at the wedding-clothes. Such grand clothes as these are. You have a right to fit them on now; it would be a pity to-morrow if they did not fit. The boys would be laughing at you. Take them, Michael, and go into the room and fit them on. [She puts them on his arm.]

MICHAEL. What wedding are you talking of? What clothes will I be wearing to-morrow?

BRIDGET. These are the clothes you are going to wear when you marry Delia Cahel to-morrow.

MICHAEL. I had forgotten that.


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