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The Lammas Hireling Summary & Analysis
by Ian Duhig

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"The Lammas Hireling" was written by contemporary British poet Ian Duhig. The poem is a dramatic monologue set some time in the past and is based on Northern Irish folklore. The speaker—a farmer—tells the story of a hireling (young man) he employed around the time of the Lammas Harvest (which celebrates the harvesting of the wheat). At first the hireling seems to have a natural aptitude for work on the farm. One night, however, the farmer catches the hireling in a fox-trap under the full moon and realizes that he's a witch. The hireling transforms into a hare, and the farmer kills his new employee with a gunshot to the heart. Switching to the present tense at the end, the farmer tells the reader—who acts like the speaker's priest hearing confession—that he rarely sleeps, and spends his nights making ammunition for his gun. The poem won the U.K.'s National Poetry Competition in 2000.

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