They Are Dear Fish To Me

The farmer's wife sat at the door,
A pleasant sight to see;
And blithesome were the wee, wee bairns
That played around her knee.

When, bending 'neath her heavy creel,
A poor fish-wife came by,
And, turning from the toilsome road,
Unto the door drew nigh.

She laid her burden on the green,
And spread its scaly store;
With trembling hands and pleading words,
She told them o'er and o'er.

But lightly laughed the young guidwife,
"We're no sae scarce o' cheer;
Tak' up your creel, and gang your ways,--
I'll buy nae fish sae dear."

Bending beneath her load again,
A weary sight to see;
Right sorely sighed the poor fish-wife,
"They are dear fish to me!

"Our boat was oot ae fearfu' night,
And when the storm blew o'er,
My husband, and my three brave sons,
Lay corpses on the shore.

"I've been a wife for thirty years,
A childless widow three;
I maun buy them now to sell again,--
They are dear fish to me!"

The farmer's wife turned to the door,--
What was't upon her cheek?
What was there rising in her breast,
That then she scarce could speak?

She thought upon her ain guidman,
Her lightsome laddies three;
The woman's words had pierced her heart,--
"They are dear fish to me!"

"Come back," she cried, with quivering voice,
And pity's gathering tear;
"Come in, come in, my poor woman,
Ye 're kindly welcome here.

"I kentna o' your aching heart,
Your weary lot to dree;
I'll ne'er forget your sad, sad words:
'They are dear fish to me!'"

Ay, let the happy-hearted learn
To pause ere they deny
The meed of honest toil, and think
How much their gold may buy,--

How much of manhood's wasted strength,
What woman's misery,--
What breaking hearts might swell the cry:
"They are dear fish to me!"
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