He Never Hurt His Mother

Background: Quite a number of years ago there was a chap beside me in Holytown pits and he loved for nothing else but drink and gambling. one night walking home from Chapelhall to Holytown, blind drunk, he was killed crossing the A8. A couple of days later coming home from his funeral I heard two old woman neighbours talking about him and one said, “He was a wild , wild laddie but there’s yin thing I’ll say aboot him. He never hurt his mother.” l’ve changed his name in this poem.

He Never Hurt His Mother

‘Twas plain to see, that Bill Magee
Would never make a saint
He’d ne’er a prayer on bended knee
His moral light was faint.
But misguided pride oft tried to hide
His feelings for another
Tho’ sentiment he would deride
He never hurt his mother

He dodged the school and hated rule
Broke every teacher’s heart
With age, apace, his wayward race,
Kept level from the start
His headstrong youth bespattered truth
No virtue held a tether
Yet, revelling thro’ life uncouth
He never hurt his mother

ln tasting all from great to small
He savoured every vice
ln mire he trod, forsaking God
Sin multiplied as lice.
Tho’ failures rife, in moral strife
No shame at home did gather
Her death left no remorseful knife
He never hurt his mother

Her grave was bare of granite rare
No sculptured column stood
To mark his loss; a little cross
Of roughly-shapen wood.
No rhyme on stone, to help atone;
Cold Fashion’s only bother
But hallowed by a son, alone,
Who never hurt his mother

Bill steadied up, but Vice’s grip
Denied the narrow path
Tho’ deadly sin was wearing thin
He still incurred the Wrath.
Till passion’s blaze cooled with his days
And Death commanded “Hither!”
But few deserve his graveside praise,
“He never hurt his mother.”

Bill’s earth-stained soul yearned for the goal
His life exchanged for sludge
But trembling there; his record bare,
Exposed before the judge.
“l have no choice, thou can’t rejoice
Nor with us here foregather -;
Then sweetly, softly, came a voice,
“Thou never hurt’st thy mother.”

Bill’s spirit saw, with trembling awe
A wondrous Lady fair,
ln reverence knelt and peace he felt
She seemed to banish care.
And by her side, like radiant bride
Her lips in happy quiver,
Her whispered “son” betrayed her pride,
“You never hurt your mother.”

Then said the lady, “Take thy sin
Where rest the souls, whose worth
ls cleansed to virgin-white again
And freed from taint of earth
Tho’ wayward nature reigned supreme
One virtue ’scaped her tether,
And keeping, thou hast found redeem
Thou never hurt’st thy mother”


John Mallaghan