The Digger

The Digger
From the Portuguese of Guerra Junqueiro

By

Edgar Prestage

THE cock crows this December night . . .
The cock crows hoarsely this dark night . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
Villager sleep not ! Call the wight . . .
Black sorrow, hasten, call the wight ! . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
The digger is thy slave of right,
Out with his hoe, for he of right,
    Black sorrow, is a slave to thee !

Howls the wind, the nests are shaking . . .
In dread night the nests are shaking . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery!
Cold as ermine snow is flaking . . .
In the dusk the snow is flaking . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
Maledict his way is making,
Hoe on shoulder he is making,
    That digger, a dark phantom he !

The

284 The Digger

The morning star doth purple grow . . .
The morning star doth pallid grow . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
The hills are bare, the frost below,
And stiff as bronze the frost below !
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
How grimly bends he o'er his hoe,
And tears and trenches with his hoe,
    That digger, a dark phantom he !

He digs and digs from dawn of day
Until the stroke of middle day . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
Then standing, sadly sets to pray,
Upon the lonely slope to pray,
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
And putting down his hoe to say
" Hail Mary ! " silently to say,
    That digger, a dark phantom he !

He digs the savage mountainside,
From dawn to even, the mountainside . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
And with some broth Thou dost requite
Him, God ! and with six bairns requite,
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
The Angelus rings through the night,
" Blessed be Thou, Heavenly Sire, this night ! "
    The digger cries, a phantom he !

Ten

By Edgar Prestage 285

Ten hills are dug . . . where is the wheat ?
Six mouths begotten . . . where is the wheat ?
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
Upon his door comes Hunger's beat,
And Death's re-echoing the beat . . .
    —Misery ! oh, misery !
"The peace of God, I now entreat !
The peace of God, I now entreat ! "
    The digger sighed, and ceased to dree !





MLA citation: Prestage, Edgar. "The Digger." The Yellow Book 6 (July 1895): 283-85. The Yellow Nineties Online. Ed. Dennis Denisoff and Lorraine Janzen Kooistra. Ryerson University, 2011. Web. [Date of access]. http://www.1890s.ca/HTML.aspx?s=YBV6_prestage_digger.html