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The Banshee

Bean Sidhe

I hear the cries of sorrow in the cold night air
I know not if they come for here ! or there?
And the more I listen, the less I hear
As fast my heart beats with blood-draining fear!
I see a figure in the moonlight pale
Of a woman: aged and frail:
Crying as if all of hers had died – how could it be –
That as at her the more I look she fades until no more of her I can see:
Her bony, wrinkled hands as she combs her long white hair
As I whisper beneath my breath Gods name as a prayer!
And as away I look, once more she will appear
Semi transparent, as if a haze or fog in the night so clear.
Know I do what she is as under the window she stands
As with her comb she brushes her hairs wispy strands
She cries for the family she follows who in the dwelling reside
One of those of the Name, are about to, or have already died!

Rich or poor the family may be, she follows them faithfully
As one of the Spirit World, no payment asks she.
Designated to the Few, why is it not to all?
This Spirit of the Fairy World delivers Gods call.
And, if the call is Gods, why does she cry so?
Are they purely tears of grief, or is there something she does know?
That because of lack of repentance for their share of sinning
For them the pain and sorrow, it is but beginning?
Maybe its tears of grief for the family, for the deceased jubilation
As the way is paved for Heavens entrance and the ensuing Celebration
If so, why is that those who die on a night howsoever clear,
If they at their window be, nothing can they see or hear?
Why is it that blind and dear their eyes and ears be?
So they cannot hear the cries and the crier they cannot see?
And why is it that when we to listen or look stay:
The specter and her cries of grief slowly fade away?

Who is this woman who has to follow the family of the name
And, are of each family the cries different or the same?
And is she from Fairy World, as so often we are told
The magical place of Little Folk, their shoes and pots of Gold?
Or is she of the folk denied entry into Heaven and into Hell
Therefore destined evermore to wander as the crier under the Holy Spell –
Not given the glory of Eternal Reward, but yet spared the eternal pain
With nothing to lose for eternity, and yet it all to gain?
Or is she of another people, not of our world or kind
Not human, fairy or angel, but of a sort whose name we cannot find?
Is she an extension of the One Himself, given a human form
A fourth Heavenly Spirit, sister to the Bethlehem born?
But if so, why does she show the age
Of the Human form, if she is of the Sage
For the Virgin, and moreso the Son
Show the age of perfection, yet the latter is of the one!

What is the significance of her brushing her hair with the comb,
As she cries deeply for the spirit which enters its eternal home?
Is she tidying herself for the soul which has departed
Like a lady for her lover who left her broken-hearted.
Lady of the Spirit World: why sit you there;
Crying ‘neath the window while brushing your hair?
Did you on some distant day walk this very Earth
If so, when are where was they place of your birth?
Were you of the family in your time and day?
Of the soul who here tonight has passed away
And what deeds have you in your time done
That you are bound as if by duty to return for each departing one?
Speak you not, but as fall the tears you cry
As you herald that they who hear not is about to die
Answer you will not so I will not know until the Final Day,
As I look and listen, you and your cries fade away!

Why is that this woman who is aged and pale
Only follows families of the Names of the Gael?
If she is of God, why then is this so?
And why to all clans of Gaelic clans does she not go?
Is she a faithful servant of ancestors long gone
Who promised to her master that when he passed on
That of his family she would always take care
And when his family needed her – she wasn’t there!
Perhaps when someone died, in their times of grief
When the Grim Reaper stole a soul without warning – like a thief
Repenting on her return, perhaps on her life she swore
That should this happen again, they’d be on their own no more.
So great was her grief as it swelled beneath her breast
Did she vow this duty to do, forsaking Eternal Rest?
Fair Lady of the Deep Sorrows – is that why you sit there
Underneath the window crying, as you comb your wispy hair?

Is it for this reason your tears of sorrow flow?
Because when you returned his family told you to go
And never return to where you were before
Because you failed your Death Promise, they turned you from their door,
Or maybe it was not so, not such was your sin
Perhaps because of social standing they would not let you in
To pay respects to your master who would not see the morrow
You sit neath the window of one of his sons who die as you weep
In grief with the family’s, who comfort you wish you could
But a lowly servant girl cannot cross the threshold of those of Noble Blood
Perhaps as one of the Fairy World, his death you had foreseen
And because he didn’t repent, at his death you keen,
And because of his death, unexpected, the following day,
His family, now afraid of you turned you from their door away?

And so each of the blood who is the same you come and try to warn
But will not yourself let be seen in case you they scorn
And in indignation sins forgot and they die content
To be damned in the afterlife for sins for which he has forgotten to repent.
In hope, the fear caused by your cries
Will make the others talk to the one who dies
Seeing in their faces the horrific fear
He’ll know he’s the one as the cries he cannot hear.
By these means the one who dies will know
That it is he, and of his sins he will repent before he will go
And so the Way to the One that the One has paved
Can walk, as he did repent, and so his soul was saved.
Whatever is your duty I do not know
And so, me on my way I will go,
And for the soul, a prayer say I
For the one, who as you comb your hair, you cry.

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