Late at night, whilst lying in bed,
two sisters hear a sound of dread.
Mixed in with the beating hail,
is the dreaded Banshee’s wail.
The storm is directly overhead,
and the thunder so loud, no word is said
Because the sisters cannot hear
anything spoken, even shouted in ear.
However, over the storm’s great row,
they hear the Banshee even now,
Howling around the chimney top,
Oh, will that screaming never stop?
Fiona and Caitlín look at each other,
with fingers in ears, the noise to smother.
The Banshee, a dire harbinger of death,
is wailing louder with every breath.
Who will die in that house tonight?
It really doesn’t seem to be right.
Only the two girls live there now,
for either to die would be a blow.
Eventually, after a couple of hours,
the storm decreases to merely showers.
Quieter now calls the Banshee,
it seems to pleading, “Please help me!”
Fiona and Caitlín become afraid.
Why is the Banshee begging for aid?
It only cries, a death to foretell,
is it predicting its own death as well?
Finally the storm blows out,
and Fiona and Caitlín think about
The Banshee, is it still around?
Then they hear a moaning sound.
It abates, then rises again,
like some creature suffering pain.
The two sisters decide they should
try to help if they could.
With dawn’s approach it is getting light,
and so the sisters think they might
Go outside and try to see
if they can find the groaning Banshee.
The sisters live on a little croft,
in a cottage that’s got a goodly loft
With a sloping ceiling overhead,
in which they’d placed a double bed.
A few outbuildings dotted around,
a meagre crop grows in the ground.
A pig, some sheep and one milk-cow.
that has sustained them both ere now.
A donkey, more a pet than use,
and fattening for Christmas, one grey goose.
A flock of hens and one old duck,
the sisters haven’t had much luck.
The cottage, a mere but-and-ben,
the but, a parlour, the ben, a kitchen.
This hovel is heated by one hearth,
and chinks in the walls are stopped with earth.
The roof is only thatched with turf,
there’s a constant background noise of surf,
And though their homestead looks forlorn,
they have lived there since they were born.
The croft is quite close to the sea,
and seaweed, obtainable for free,
Is often collected by the sisters,
carried in buckets which gives them blisters.
They use it to fertilise their crop,
and work all day until ready to drop.
Their father had been lost at sea,
their mother, heartbroken, soon after died she.
The sisters dress and go outside,
to find the Banshee where’er it may hide.
They can no longer hear its moan,
and wonder if by now it’s flown.
They slowly walk around to try,
the importunate Banshee to spy.
It isn’t now on the roof at all,
it is lying huddled by the wall.
No longer seeming a creature of dread,
only a shivering person, nearly dead.
The sisters kneel down by her side,
they cannot just let her there bide.
“What can we to to help?” asks Fi.
“Nothing, please just let me die.”
“Not an option,” then declares Cait,
“I’ll fetch a blanket, you two wait.”
The Banshee turns her face away,
“I thought to be gone ere break of day.
I was flying across your croft
when the lightning struck down from aloft.”
“I’ve never been hit like that before,
I couldn’t then fly any more.
I tumbled down from out of the sky
in terrible pain. I thought I’d die.”
“And in my agony I screamed out,
not knowing you would hear me shout.
I am not here, your deaths to foretell,
I would for you that fear dispel.”
Then Caitlín does soon return,
Fiona says, “Our help she’d spurn.”
“Oh no she shan't,” Caitlín said,
“we’ll just to carry her to bed.”
To the girls the Banshee appears light,
extremely pale, albino white.
She hardly seems to have any weight,
and looks as though she rarely ate.
On her shoulders two white wings,
tiny little vestigial things.
Her only clothes, a vestment white,
ripped to shreds by the storm in the night.
Cait carefully lays the blanket down flat,
and they place the Banshee onto that.
Then lifting the blanket between them both,
they carry her in, though the Banshee’s loath.
They go into the but, through the ben,
noticing as they do so, when
The Banshee is shaken around,
she bites her lip hard to prevent any sound.
They lay the Banshee down on their settle,
realising she is full of mettle.
She obviously is still in great pain,
though will not show it, that is plain.
Fiona back into the kitchen goes,
intending to heat up some brose.
Caitlín with the Banshee does stay,
determined to help as best she may.
Beneath the Banshee’s head she lays
a pillow then to the Banshee says,
“You should get out of your wet clothes,
you could catch you death from wearing those.”
Caitlín realised as soon as she spoke,
to the Banshee that would be no joke.
“I’m sorry if I’ve offended you,
that’s the last thing I would want to do.”
“It is just that when *we were wet,
these words from our mother we would get.”
The Banshee replies, “I don’t mind,
I know you’re trying to be kind.”
“And there’s something you should know,
no-one’s seen my body ere now.
However, although shy I may be,
I will try to let you undress me.”
Fiona at that moment comes in,
carrying on a tray of tin,
A bowl of brose with slices of bread,
then seeming surprised, to her sister said,
“Haven’t you yet the wight undressed
and warmed her up to help her rest?
If she stays in that dress, cold and wet,
she might catch her death from cold, yet!”
The Banshee and Caitlín glance at each other,
and then both snirt, which they try to smother
By each pretending to need to cough
while Fiona snaps, “Let’s get them off.”
Fiona places the tray on a table,
then kindly says, “I think I’ll be able,
If you sit up, to remove your gown,”
then worries, hearing the Banshee groan.
“I’m sorry, I am still in pain,
it came on when I moved again
As the result of having to cough.
Please do your best to get my robe off.”
Caitlín sits by the Banshee’s side,
and across her back her arm does slide.
She helps the Banshee to sit up straight,
who winces and then smiles at Cait.
Fiona manages to ease the robe down
to the Banshee’s waist then gives a frown.
“No wonder so much pain you’ve had,
the lightning seems to have burnt you bad.”
The Banshee’s skin is bleeding and raw,
the robe stuck in places making it sore.
Caitlín asks, “Why didn’t you say?
You don’t need to suffer this way.”
The Banshee begs, “Please don’t be mad,
until now my life’s been bad.
You’re the first mortals I have known,
until now I’ve been alone.”
Overcome with emotion, she cries,
the tears, in rivulets, fall from her eyes.
Caitlín hugs her close to her breast,
saying, “Soon you will be able to rest.”
“Fi, get some scissors and cut her robe free,
then bring some Aloe Vera to me.
I’ll use the sap to coat each wound,
and with strips of cloth they can be bound.”
So Fiona with scissors cuts the cloth,
while the Banshee closes her eyes, both
To avoid watching the scissors being used,
and not see the cloth to her body fused.
After cutting through as much cloth as she may,
Fiona picks the pieces away.
And then Caitlín does tenderly use,
to soothe the wounds, Aloe juice.
Fiona cuts the Banshee’s dress
into strips, which, more or less,
Provide enough cloth, the wounds to cover,
which they hope will soon heal over.
Fiona then goes to the bedroom to get,
to cover the Banshee, a dry blanket.
Caitlín stays sitting with her on the settle,
hoping the Banshee’ll soon be in fine fettle.
The blanket warms her up a treat,
then the sisters help the Banshee to eat.
Caitlín supports the Banshee’s head,
while Fiona feeds her brose and bread.
They leave her sleeping on the settee,
and go to the kitchen to brew some tea,
Then sitting down, they discuss what to do,
it’s new to them, they haven’t a clue.
Cait says, “I thought her a creature of myth,
a fable, though mentioned long sith.”
Fiona remarks, “And I thought as well,
she only appeared, a death to foretell.”
“This, she has said, is not why she’s here,
and also her life’s bad, so I fear
If we don’t help her to try to mend,
she might think her own life to end.”
At that the sisters feel so sad,
how can the Banshee’s life be so bad?
Since she’s a poor creature in so much need,
they’ll try to help and not ask for meed.
Into the parlour they quietly peep,
the Banshee still seems to be asleep.
So Fiona and Caitlín each start on a chore,
Fi feeds the hens, Cait goes to the shore.
On the beach Cait harvests seaweed,
collecting only as much as they need,
Then carries it back to the croft, up the lane,
trying to ignore, caused by blisters, the pain.
Cait leaves the buckets and enters the ben,
and sees the Banshee is awake, then
She goes to her and sitting down,
asks, “Why’ve you always been on your own?”
The Banshee replies, “That’s just how it is.
There’s never been a time ywis,
That I’ve ever met another like me.
Mayhap I’m the only one to be.”
At that the Banshee seems so sad,
and continues, “And what else is bad
Is that I feel Death draw near
to mortals. That’s the time I fear.”
“I cannot stop that ‘sergeant fell,’
however, I feel his pull too well.
I feel so sad at what he does,
and try to help by being close.”
“That is why when he is present,
I always try not to be absent.
I give warning as best I might,
by screaming loudly in the night.”
“People hear me and suppose,
I am there, a life to foreclose.
Then I feel the awful hate,
which from the mortals does emanate.”
Caitlín then goes back outside,
leaving the Banshee safe inside.
Fiona and Cait continue the work
that they must do and should not shirk.
Fiona finally milks the cow,
and hoping the Banshee’s feeling less low,
Pours some warm milk into a cup,
and carries it in for the Banshee to sup.
The Banshee wakes as Fiona comes in,
Fi says to her, giving a grin,
“I can’t believe you’re really here,
I must say, you are quite a dear!”
The Banshee gratefully takes the cup,
and with Fi’s help drinks the milk up.
Then back down on the couch she does lie,
and Fiona, embarrassed, again sees her cry.
Fiona sits down by her side,
while the Banshee tries, her face to hide.
Fiona, silent, her hand does hold,
noticing it’s very cold.
She strokes the Banshee’s silvery hair,
and waits for the tears to disappear.
The Banshee, eventually, does her eyes dry,
and then gives out a heartfelt sigh.
“I am so happy here with you,
without you I’d not know what to do.
Please forgive my moody tears,
I haven’t cried like this for years.”
“The first time was when I experienced Death.
I was drawn to a blasted heath,
Where a woman had a babe, stillborn,
and was gazing at it so forlorn.”
“She’d been constuprated in a wood,
by a man who’d left as soon as he could.
She was overcome with shame,
she hadn’t even known his name.”
“The babe was born before its time,
the ground was cold and hard with rime.
The woman did not even have
a ***** to dig the baby’s grave.”
“She opened the clothes across her chest,
and wrapped it tightly to her breast,
Then untied the cincture from her waist,
moving slowly not in haste.”
“When, going to a nearby tree,
not knowing I was there to see,
Around a branch she did it thread,
and hanged herself. She soon was dead.”
“Death knew what there would occur,
and therefore, to lay claim to her,
Had gone to the heath to watch her die,
and I’d been drawn, by Death, nearby.”
“I could feel the woman’s pain.
It came in waves again and again.
I didn’t know what it did mean,
and in my anguish I did keen.”
“My voice grew louder, I did scream,
Death looked at me and it did seem
At that moment, in pity, said,
‘She really is now better off dead.’”
They then hear the back door open
as Caitlín enters into the ben.
She shuts it close and locks it tight,
as she comes inside for the night.
“The animals are safely put away,
and now it’s time to hit the hay.
I’ll make supper and a *** of tea,
then it’s off to bed for me.”
Fiona says, “I’ll give you a hand.”
Then slowly stretches and up does stand.
She goes with Cait to make the tea,
leaving behind the poor Banshee.
Fiona tells Cait of the Banshee’s plight,
though they cannot think how to make it right.
They place three bowls and cups on a tray,
and back to the parlour make their way.
The Banshee sits up, with her feet on the ground,
it seems as though some strength she’s found.
She takes a bowl and says, “I suppose
it’s another delicious helping of brose.”
She beams at the sisters, who feel a glow
deep inside them slowly grow.
They realise that perhaps this is how
the Banshee is able, her feelings to show.
The Banshee asks, “Will it be all right
if I go outside for a stroll tonight?
I’ll only take a turn round the croft,
I will not try to fly aloft.”
“I am a denizen of the night,
which is why I thought I might
Have a walk by the light of the moon.
I promise I will be back soon.”
Round the Banshee’s waist Cait ties some rope
so that the blanket will not ope,
Then walks with her across the floor,
to help her get to the back door.
Caitlín unlocks it and opens it out,
though, for the Banshee, has some doubt.
Suppose the effort is too great?
She can only watch and wait.
Meanwhile Fi does the washing up,
and then she shouts, “I’m going up
To make our bed, don’t be late!”
Caitlín replies, “All right, don’t wait.”
Fiona goes to the top of the stair,
she makes up the bed then brushes her hair.
She quickly undresses and gets into bed,
and on the pillow rests her head.
Caitlín’s still standing at the door,
she’s not anxious any more.
The Banshee seems to be doing fine,
walking slowly in the bright moonshine.
As she walks she seems to get stronger,
so Caitlín, waiting for her for longer
Than she’d thought that she might do,
steps outside to have a walk too.
She takes the Banshee by the hand,
For a time they slowly walk round and
Then the Banshee asks to stop,
to rest before she’s likely to drop.
Still on her feet the Banshee sways,
and seems to be in a sort of daze.
So Caitlín holds her in her arms tight,
and thus they stand in the bright moonlight.
Hugging the Banshee close to her breast,
she’s aware of her nearness to their guest.
Caitlín feels her heart start to pound,
and in some confusion stands stilly and stound.
Then she pulls herself together,
at the same time wondering whether
She has experienced her first love,
or if this feeling false will prove.
So fragile and helpless the Banshee appears,
Caitlín can’t help but be moved to tears.
She lifts her up, and carries her inside,
and places her onto the sofa to bide.
Caitlín then stumbles up the stairs,
Fiona is shocked to see her in tears,
And asks her if she is all right,
and if anything’s happened out there in the night.
Caitlín, crying, lies down on the bed,
then Fiona, on her *****, pillows Caits head.
She gently wipes Caitlín’s tears away,
and waits to hear what she might say.
Caitlín then cuddles up to Fi,
saying, “Thank you for looking after me.
Really, I am quite all right,
nothing bad happened out there in the night.”
“It’s just that the Banshee is still frail,
she appeared to be getting a little more hale,
And then she seemed to become weak again,
so I carried her in, on the sofa she’s lain.”
Cait then stands and doffs her dress,
and gets into bed, still feeling a mess.
Fiona holds Cait as to sleep they go,
and they stay like that the whole night through.
Fiona and Caitlín wake up together,
and happily smile at one another.
It’s the start of a brand new day
which they’ll face together, come what may.
Fiona dresses and downstairs goes she,
into the kitchen to make some tea.
Caitlín shortly comes down too,
entering the parlour, the Banshee to view.
The Banshee wakes as Caitlín goes in,
still looking pale and painfully thin.
Caitlín sits on the sofa with care,
saying, “Last night you gave me quite a scare.”
“You seemed to get stronger in the moonlight,
so I thought everything was going all right.
Then I feared that you might fall down,
and so I carried you back here on my own.”
The Banshee responded, “I’m ever so sorry.
I didn’t mean to cause you worry.
I also felt I was getting str