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Songs of Old Ireland. A Collection of Fifty Irish Melodies Unknown in England

Word count: 7345

by Charles Villiers Stanford, Sir (1852 - 1924)

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1. The little red lark [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Oh swan of slenderness,
Dove of tenderness,
  Jewel of joys, arise!
The little red lark,
Like a [rosy]1 spark
  Of song to his sunburst flies.
But till [thou art]2 risen
Earth is a prison
  Full of my lonesome sighs;
Then awake and discover
To thy fond lover
  The morn of thy matchless eyes.

The dawn is dark to me.
Hark! o hark to me,
  Pulse of my heart, I pray!
And out of thy hiding
With blushes gliding
  Dazzle me with thy day.
Ah, then, once more to thee
Flying I'll pour to thee
  Passion so sweet and gay.
The lark shall listen,
And dewdrops glisten,
 Laughing on [every]3 spray.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford: "soaring"
2 Stanford: "thou'rt"
3 Stanford: "ev'ry"

Submitted by Ted Perry

2. Emer's farewell to Cucullin [ sung text checked 1 time]

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O might a maid confess her secret longing 
To one who dearly loves, but may not speak! 
Alas! I had not hidden to thy wronging 
A bleeding heart beneath a smiling cheek; 
1 had not stemmed my bitter tears from starting, 
And thou had’st learned my bosom's dear distress, 
And half the pain, the cruel pain of parting, 
Had passed, Cucullin, in thy fond caress.

But go! Connacia’s hostile trumpets call thee,
Thy chariot mount and ride the ridge of war,
And prove whatever feat of arms befall thee,
The hope and pride of Emer of Lismore;
Ah, then return, my hero, girt with glory,
To knit my virgin heart so near to thine,
That all who seek thy name in Erin’s story
Shall find its loving letters linked with mine.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

3. Awake, awake Fianna [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Awake, awake, Fianna!
For through the shadows, see, 
Great Oscur is hosting hither 
Beneath the red rowan tree. 
And as we march to meet him, 
The minstrels together raise 
On joyful harp and tympan 
The mighty Oscur's praise. 

For height and might of stature, 
A giant he stands rockfast, 
And yet his foot for fleetness 
Out-runneth the Autumn blast. 
His eyes are earnest azure, 
His laughter a peal of pearls; 
The coolun round his shoulders 
A rain of ruddy curls. 

Behold, behold, his chariot 
Is bursting amid the foe! 
Oh, hark ! his dread spear hurtles; 
Their leader in blood lies low,
A bard of bards is Oscur, 
The moulder of mellow words, 
A minstrel true is Oscur 
Among the chiming chords.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

4. Ancient lullaby [ sung text checked 1 time]

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O Sleep, my baby, you are sharing
With the sun in rest repairing;
While the moon her silver chair in
  Watches with your mother.
Shoheen, sho lo,
Lulla lo lo!1

The morning on a bed of roses,
Evening on rude hills reposes:
Dusk his heavy eyelid closes,
  Under dreamy curtains.
Shoheen, sho lo,
Lulla lo lo!

The winds lie lulled on bluest billows,
Shining stars on cloudy pillows,
Waters under nodding willows,
  Mists upon the mountains.
Shoheen, sho lo,
Lulla lo lo!

Upon the fruits, upon the flowers,
On the wood birds in their bowers,
On low huts and lofty 'towers,
  Blessed sleep has fallen.
Shoheen, sho lo,
Lulla lo lo!

And ah! my child as free from cumber,
Thus thro' life could'st thou but slumber,
Thus in death go join the number
  Of God's smiling angels.
Shoheen sho lo,
Lulla lo lo!


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1 Irish hush words (from a note in the poetry book)

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

5. The royal hunt [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Tantara rara, hark from Tara, how the herald's trumpet clear 
Gaily summons King and Commons to the hunting of the deer; 
And now the Ard Righ rides before us, circled by his shining court; 
Whilst the crowd's acclaiming chorus hails him to the happy sport, 
And tantara, tantara, tantara, tantara, hark the bugles' greeting 
Soft echoes, re-echoes, re-echoes, and echoes far into the distance retreating. 
Tantara rara, lirra lara ! sweet the silver bugles blow, 
Dogs are doubting, footmen shouting hunt the covers high and low. 
Now uncouple Bran the supple, Bran and Scolan swift as flame ! 
Loose us Laom, loose us Taom, free us ev'ry hound of fame! 
The stag is started in the hollow ! Hark, the huntsman's view halloo! 
Hark, the hounds in chorus follow ! Hulla hulla, hulla hoo! 
While tantara, tantara, fainter and fainter the horn is now replying, 
And further, and further, and further, and further the hunt in the distance is dying. 
Tantara rara now from Tara over hill and dale we go, 
While we chevy, yoicks, tantivy, tally, tally, tallyho !


Submitted by Mike Pearson

6. Battle hymn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Above the thunder crashes,
Around the lightning flashes:
Our heads are heaped with ashes
But Thou, God, art nigh!
Thou launchest forth the levin,
The storm by Thee is driven,
Give heed, O Lord, from Heaven,
Hear, hear our cry!

For lo, the Dane defaces
With fire Thy holy places,
He hews Thy priests in pieces,
Our maids more than die.
Up, Lord, with storm and thunder,
Pursue him with his plunder,
And smite his ships in sunder,
Lord God Most High!


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

7. The return from Fingal [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Moan, ye winds, ye caverns call 
" Orro, orro ! " to our sorrow, 
While we bear 'neath one black pall 
Brian, Murrough, from Fingal. 
Still though wasted, wounded, weary, 
On, Dalcassians ! to your eyrie, 
Eagles, crying from your crag, 
" We have rent the Raven's flag." 

How O'Brien's banshee cried, 
Wailing, warning, ere that morning, 
When the Lochlan in his pride 
Whitened all the ocean side.
Sea kings stern from Norway’s highlands,
Pirate chiefs from Orkney’s islands.
Lords of Leinster, Britain, Wales, 
By the shore a thousand sails 

"On this day," great Brian cried 
To the foeman, "Jew and Roman 
Christ, our Saviour, crucified. 
Hold we truce till Easter-tide ! " 
Loud rang back their impious laughter, 
"Fight comes first, thanksgiving after!' 
"Perish then, with shameful loss, 
Howling fiends before the Cross!" 

Plait and Donnell brand to brand 
First in raging wrath engaging, 
Heart pierced by each other's hand, 
Fell together on the strand. 
Then before the sword of Murrough 
Fled the Dane; till to our sorrow 
Anrud, Norway's champion dread, 
Murrough met and both lay dead. 

But our rallying cry awoke, 
"Kian, Kian, Desmond's lion!" 
And, at Kian's dreadful stroke, 
Reeled the Lochlan ranks and broke. 
"Now with strains of martial glory 
To the King to tell our story," 
But we found great Brian low; 
Och, ochone ! och ullalo! 

Moan, ye winds, ye caverns call 
"Orro, orro !" to our sorrow, 
While we bear 'neath one black pall 
Brian, Murrough, from Fingal. 
Still though wasted, wounded, weary, 
On, Dalcassians! to your eyrie, 
Eagles, crying from your crag, 
"We have rent the Raven's flag!"


Submitted by Mike Pearson

8. Colleen Oge Asthore [ sung text checked 1 time]

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When I marched away to war,
How you kissed me o'er and o'er:
  Weeping, pressed me;
  Sobbing, blessed me;
Colleen, colleen oge asthore.

I was wounded, wounded sore,
Dead, your father falsely swore;
  Mad to harry
  You to marry
One with miser-gold in store.

Ah! but when you dreamed me dead,
Forth you flew a wildered maid:
  Ever grieving,
  Ever weaving
Willow, willow for your head.

"Nay, he lives," your mother said,
But you only shook your head;
  "Why deceive me?
  Ah! believe me,
Mother, mother, he is dead."

So you pined and pined away,
Till, when in the winter grey
  Home I hasted,
  Wan and wasted,
Colleen, colleen oge, you lay.

"Tis his lonesome ghost," you said,
"Come to call me to the dead;"
  "Nay, discover
  Your dear lover
Longing now at last to wed."

Then your cheek, so pale before,
With the rose of hope once more,
  Faintly, slowly,
  Brightly, wholly,
Blossomed, colleen oge asthore.

Till upon the chapel floor,
Side by side, we knelt and swore,
  Duty dearest,
  Love sincerest,
Colleen, colleen oge asthore.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

9. Fairy nurse song [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Mortal babe the fays have brought me,
At your woe freshly flow
All the bitter griefs they wrought me
Long ago, shohoolo!
When a blooming bride they snatched me,
Welladay, welladay!
From my husband’s arms and matched me
With a fay, with a fay.
Loveless here below I languish.
Sholoolo! From above
Hast thou come to soothe my anguish,
Cooing dove, with thy love.

Hush my pretty, hush my honey,
Shohoolo! see my show,
Goblin gems and magic money,
How they glow! Shohoolo!
Bonny babe thou art beguiling,
Shohoolo! by your joy,
My sad lips at last to smiling,
Shohoolo! bonny boy.
Soft the fringed curtain closes,
Closes quite o’er his sight;
On my bosom he reposes,
Love, goodnight, love goodnight.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

10. The flight of the earls [ sung text checked 1 time]

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To other shores across the sea
 We speed with swelling sail;
Yet still there lingers on our lee
 A phantom Innisfail.
Oh fear, fear not, gentle ghost,
 Your sons shall turn untrue!
Though fain to fly your lovely coast,
 They leave their hearts with you.

As slowly into distance dim
 Your shadow sinks and dies,
So o'er the ocean's utmost rim
 Another realm shall rise;
New hills shall swell, new vales expand,
 New rivers winding flow,
But could we for a foster land
 Your mother-love forego?

Shall mighty Espan's martial praise
 Our patriot pulses still,
And o'er your memory's fervent rays
 Forever cast a chill?
Oh, no! we live for your relief,
 Till home from alien earth
We share the smile that gilds your grief,
 The tear that gems your mirth.


Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

11. Fond Chloe [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Now the starlight only
Lights thy lover lonely,
Now the moon has wandered
Far away,
Bright’ning other billows,
Whitening other willow
Lighting other rovers,
So they say.
Then to earth’s amazement
From thy casement
O’er the climbing roses,
Love incline
Till the golden sunlight,
Till the silver moonlight
In thy glowing glances 
Seem to shine.

Ah my love is sleeping,
All her senses steeping
In Elysian fountains,
Fast aswoon.
Hush my harp thy rapture,
If thy chord would capture
Chloe’s dreaming fancy,
Change thy tune!
With a softer ditty
Seek her pity,
Stealing through her slumbers
To her heart,
Till at last she waken,
Love’s true captive taken,
Blushing, sighing, smiling
‘Neath thy art.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

12. Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Oh! black breaks the morrow in tempest and gloom, 
When we bear to our sorrow O'Neill to the tomb. 
Whilst with wailing and weeping the long, long train 
Comes woefully weeping o'er Uladh's dark plain.

'Twas not reaving their cattle, you fell, Owen Roe, 
Or in red, raging battle, your face to the foe. 
But the black snake of treason they sent, O'Neill, 
To pierce you with poison since you scoffed at their steel. 

Oh! leader God-gifted, oh! arm stern of stroke, 
That well-nigh had lifted from our shoulders the yoke, 
Your death-bell is ringing our doom, our doom, 
For with you we are bringing our hopes to the tomb !


Submitted by Mike Pearson

13. St. Mary's Bells [ sung text checked 1 time]

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How many a time in Cratla’s dells
I list your chime, St. Mary’s bells!
And hearing, seem to find unfold,
As in a dream, the legend old;
Which tells of one with a master’s hand,
Who of silver spun your magic bland,
That from your tower, at the holy hour,
Around us swells, St. Mary’s Bells.

Again I view you founder sail
The ocean blue for Innisfail;
Again I hark the breakers roar
About his bark on Shannon shore;
Till in heaven-sent calm to the hope forlorn,
Your angel psalm o’er the ocean borne
Rings on his ear with rapture clear,
And with tears he tells his own sweet bells.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

14. The sailor girl [ sung text checked 1 time]

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When the Wild-Geese1 were flying to Flanders away,
I clung to my Desmond, beseeching him stay,
But the stern trumpet sounded the summons to sea,
And afar the ship bore him, mabouchal machree2.

And first he sent letters, and then he sent none,
And three times into prison I dreamt he was thrown;
So I shore my long tresses, and [stained]3 my face brown,
And went for a sailor from Limerick town.

Oh! the ropes cut my fingers, but steadfast I strove,
Till I reached the Low Country in search of my love.
There I heard how at Namur his heart was so high,
That they carried him captive, refusing to fly.

With that to King William himself I was brought,
And his mercy for Desmond with tears I besought
He considered my story, then smiling, said he,
"The young Irish rebel for your sake is free.

"Bring the varlet before us. Now, Desmond O'Hea,
Myself has decided your sentence to-day.
You must marry your sailor with bell, book, and ring,
And here is her dowry," cried William the King!


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Wild-Geese : the popular name given to the Irish who followed Sarsfield into the Low Countries after the Capitulation of Limerick. (note from book of poetry)
2 mabouchal machree = my heart's own boy (note from book of poetry)
3 Stanford: "stain'd"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

15. The lament [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Ah why, Patrick Sarsfield, did we let your ships sail
Away to French Flanders from green Innisfail?
For far from your country you lie cold and low;
Ah why, Patrick Sarsfield, ah, why did you go?

We prayed, Patrick Sarsfield, to see you sail home, 
Your flag waving victory above the white foam.
But still in our fetters, poor slaves we live on;
For oh, Patrick Sarsfield, for oh, you are gone!


Submitted by Mike Pearson

16. Lady Sybil [ sung text checked 1 time]

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She’s bid her maiden bower goodbye, and down the stair she’s stole,
And tiptoe passed the revelers stretched around their empty bowl; 
And hushed her father’s watch hounds fierce, and turned the postern key,
And leapt the moat to her lover’s arms, O blessed liberty!

Now Lady Sibyl, will you ride to my castle far away,
A haughty keep that crowns the steep by Dingle’s lovely bay?
Her blushes warm his beating heart, as thus she answers clear,
“Through shine and snow, through weal and woe, I’ll follow you, my dear!”

He springs upon his chafing steed with all a lover’s pride;
One sudden stoop, and to the croup he lifts his blooming bride.
Away, away,” the blood hounds bay, the loud alarm is spread,
“Now race and chase – by rise of sun your lady shall be wed.”


Submitted by Mike Pearson

17. 'Twas pretty to be in Ballinderry [ sung text checked 1 time]

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'Twas pretty to be in Ballinderry,
  'Twas pretty to be in Aghalee,
'Twas prettier to be in little Ram's Island,
  Trysting under the ivy tree!
    Ochone, ochone!
    Ochone, ochone!
For often I roved in little Ram's Island,
Side by side with Phelimy Hyland,
And still he'd court me and I'd be coy,
Though at heart I loved him, my handsome boy!

"I'm going," he sighed, "from Ballinderry
  Out and across the stormy sea;
Then if in your heart you love me, Mary,
  Open your arms at last to me."
    Ochone, ochone!
    Ochone, ochone!
I opened my arms; how well he knew me!
I opened my arms and took him to me;
And there, in the gloom of the groaning mast,
We kissed our first and we kissed our last!

'Twas happy to be in little Ram's Island,
  But now 'tis sad as sad can be;
For the ship that sailed with Phelimy Hyland,
  It sunk for ever beneath the sea.
    Ochone, ochone!
    Ochone, ochone!
And 'tis oh ! but I wear the weeping willow,
And wander alone by the lonesome billow,
And cry to him over the cruel sea,
"Phelimy Hyland, come back to me!"


Note: Stanford makes the following abbreviations: Line 10: “Tho’” and “lov’d” ; Line 11: “sigh’d” ; Line 17: “open’d” ; Line 18: “open’d” ; Line 20: “kiss’d” and “kiss’d” ; Line 23: “sail’d”

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

18. Will you float in my boat? [ sung text checked 1 time]

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“Will you float in my boat
Down to the town?”

“Sir, I’m in dread.”

“Why, blooming maid,
Are you afraid?”

“Lest over the foam
Far away from my home,
You might carry me
And marry me,
Sir,” she said.

“If I land on the strand
Say, will you stay?”

“P’rhaps then I would.”

“Now Colleen dear,
Sure you’ll not fear
In my curragh to glide
For an hour on the tide.”

“Ah! I’d rather ask father,
Indeed, I should.”

“May I bring you the ring?
Call Father Paul?”

“Mother says yes!”

“Do you say so?”

“I don’t say no.”

“Then come in my boat
For an hour let us float
Then I’ll marry and carry you
Off to bliss.”


Submitted by Mike Pearson

19. Her brow is like the lily [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Her brow is like the lily,
Her cheek is like the rose,
And fair as daffodilly
Her yellow coolun flows.
Ne’er blue so tender
Flowed in a glance,
And ne’er shape as slender
Went gliding in the dance.

‘Twas up among the mountains,
She lived all alone,
Where Connemara’s fountains
Fall chiming on the stone.
Singing I found her
Down in a dell,
With all the birds round her
Entranced before her spell.

I asked why she was leading
So lonesome a life,
And long my passion pleading,
Besought her for my wife.
“Ah! Hasty lover,
You woo in vain,
But when a year’s over
Come seek me here again.”

Oh! Early up the mountain
When that year was o’er,
The creeping minutes counting,
I climbed and climbed once more,
Till at last I found you,
Dear Valentine,
And stole my arms around you,
And knew your heart was mine.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

20. Spinning-wheel song [ sung text checked 1 time]

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Once my wheel ran cheerily round,
  Ran cheerily round from day to day,
But now it [drags]1 how wearily round;
  For Owen's gone away.
Once I spun soft carolling O,
  Soft carolling O! from morn to eve,
But since we started quarrelling, oh!
  'Tis silently I weave.

Has he joined Sir Arthur, ochone!
  Sir Arthur, ochone! to fight the French? 
Though he was rude, I'd rather, ochone!
  He joined me on this bench. 
Hush ! he's been deluthering you,
  Deluthering you with swords and drums, 
And now I think 'tis soothering you,
  'Tis soothering you, he comes.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford: "runs"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

21. How happy for the woodbirds [ sung text checked 1 time]

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How happy for the woodbirds on the branches above
To flutter together and warble their love!
How I wish we were like them beneath the blue sky!
But ‘tis far, far we are parted, my fond love and I.

O Fortune let the birdies alone on the tree
And fetch wings and feathers for Mary and me,
That we soon may go darting across the salt tide,
And fly singing together in green Malahide.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

22. Jack the jolly ploughboy [ sung text checked 1 time]

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As Jack the jolly ploughboy was ploughing through the land,
He turned his share and shouted to bid his horses stand,
Then down beside his team he sat, contented as a king,
And Jack he sang his song so sweet he made the mountains ring
    With his Ta-ran-nan nanty na,
    Sing ta-ran-nan nanty na,
  While the mountains all ringing re-echoed the singing
    Of Ta-ran-nan nanty na.

'Tis said old England's sailors, when wintry tempests roar,
Will plough the stormy waters and pray for those on shore;
But through the angry winter the share, the share for me, 
To drive a steady furrow, and pray for those at sea.
    With my Ta-ran-nan nanty na, etc.

When heaven above is bluest, and earth most green below,
Away from wife and sweetheart the fisherman must go;
But golden seed I'll scatter beside the girl I love,
And smile to hear the cuckoo, and sigh to hear the dove,
    With my Ta-ran-nan nanty na, etc.

'Tis oft the hardy fishers a scanty harvest earn,
And gallant tars from glory on wooden legs return,
But a bursting crop for ever shall dance before my flail,
For I'll live and die a farmer all in the Golden Vale.
    With my Ta-ran-nan nanty na, etc.


Stanford abbreviates "turned" to "turn'd" in line 2.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

23. Jenny [ sung text checked 1 time]

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With laughing looks I once arose,
How dark so-e’er the day;
Now sadly ev’ry sunburst shows,
For joy has fled away,
Jenny; For joy has fled away!

Nor flocks, nor herds, nor store of gold,
Nor broad estate have I;
If beauty must be bought or sold,
Alas! I cannot buy,
Jenny; Alas! I cannot buy.

Yet I’ll be rich, if you’ll be kind,
And once again agree
To bear me still in loving mind,
Till I’ve a home for thee,
Jenny; A home till death for thee.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

24. The smith's song [ sung text checked 1 time]

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While we sing a song, 
Bwail so, seid so,
Ding dong, ding-a-dong, 
I strike, you blow!
Rake those ashes out,
Boy, your fire’s low,
Heap new sods about,
Blow now, blow!
Rouse that iron
Cold and dead,
Our forge fire on, 
Rouse him red!
Ply your bellows
To my blows!
See! He yellows,
Mellows, glows!
From these embers now,
Let us lift him,
To our anvil’s brow
Let us shift him!

From your can of water,
Come boy, drench him,
Splash, splash, splutter, splatter,
Quench him, quench him!
Now with ding-a-dong
On this bar’s edge
Swing, swong, slow and strong
Beats my big sledge,
All through the clamour
Red sparks rain,
Whilst my hammer
Shapes the shoe plain.
Have the nails ready, boy,
So! mare, So!
Now keep her steady boy,
Woa! girl, woa!
Ring-ding, ring-a-ting,
Rising, sinking,
That’s our little hammer
Now comes clinking,
Ring-ding, ring-a-ting,
There’s one shoe fast,
Ring-ding, ring-a-ting,
There boy’s our last.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

25. My love's an arbutus [ sung text checked 1 time]

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My love's an arbutus
By the borders of Lene1,
So slender and shapely
In her girdle of green.
And I measure the pleasure
Of her eye's sapphire sheen
By the blue skies that sparkle
Through the soft branching screen.

But though ruddy the berry
And snowy the flower
That brighten together
The arbutus bower,
Perfuming and blooming
Through sunshine and shower,
Give me her bright lips
And her laugh's pearly dower.

Alas! fruit and blossom
Shall [scatter]2 the lea,
And Time's jealous fingers
Dim your young charms, Machree.
But unranging, unchanging,
You'll still cling to me,
Like the evergreen leaf
To the arbutus tree.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Lene = Killarney
2 Stanford: "lie dead on"

Submitted by Ted Perry

26. The rejected lover [ sung text checked 1 time]

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On Innisfallen’s fairy isle,
Amid the blooming bushes, O!
We leant upon the lover’s stile
And listened to the thrushes, O!
When first I sighed to see her smile
And smil’d to see her blushes, O!

Her hair was bright as beaten gold
And soft as spider’s spinning, O!
Her cheek outbloomed the apple old
That set our parents sinning, O!
And in her eyes you might behold
My joys and griefs beginning, O!

In Innisfallen’s fairy grove
I hushed my happy wooing, O!
To listen to the brooding dove
Amid the branches cooing, O!
But oh! how short those hours of love,
How long their bitter ruing, O!

Poor cushat, thy complaining breast
With woe like mine is heaving, O!
With thee I mourn a fruitless quest,
For ah! with art deceiving, Oh! (sic)
The cuckoo-bird has robbed my nest
And left me wildly grieving, Oh!


Submitted by Mike Pearson

27. The foxhunt [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The first morning of March in the year '33,
There was frolic and fun in our own country;
The King's County Hunt over meadows and rocks,
Most nobly set out in the search of a fox.
  [Hullahoo ! harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys ! away, harkaway!]1

When they started bold Reynard he faced Tullamore,
Through Wicklow and Arklow along the sea-shore;
There he brisked up his brush with a laugh, and says he,
"'Tis mighty refreshing this breeze from the sea."
  Hullahoo! harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys! away, harkaway!

With the hounds at his heels every inch of the way,
He led us by sunset right into Roscrea;
Here he ran up a chimney and out of the top
The rogue he cried out for the hunters to stop
  From their loud harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys ! away, harkaway! 

"'Twas a long thirsty stretch since we left the sea-shore,
But, lads, here you've gallons of claret galore;
Myself will make free just to slip out of view,
And take a small pull at my own mountain dew."
  So no more hullahoo ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo! harkaway, boys ! away harkaway!

One hundred and twenty good sportsmen went down,
And sought him from Ballyland through Ballyboyne;
We swore that we'd watch him the length of the night,
So Reynard, sly Reynard, lay hid till the light.
  Hullahoo ! harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys ! away, harkaway!

But the hills they re-echoed right early next morn
With the cry of the hounds and the call of the horn,
And in spite of his action, his craft, and his skill,
Our fine fox was taken on top of the hill.
  Hullahoo ! harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway I
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys ! away, harkaway!

When Reynard he knew that his death was so nigh,
For pen, ink and paper he called with a sigh:
And all his dear wishes on earth to fulfil,
With these few dying words he declared his last will,
  While we ceased harkaway ! hullahoo ! harkaway!
  Hullahoo ! harkaway, boys ! away, harkaway!

"Here's to you, Mr. Casey, my Curraghmore estate,
And to you, young O'Brien, my money and plate,
And to you, Thomas Dennihy, my whip, spurs, and cap,
For no leap was so cross that you'd look for a gap."
  And of what he made mention they found it no blank,
  For he gave them a cheque on the National Bank.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford: "Tally-ho! harkaway! Tally-ho! harkaway! / Tally-ho! harkaway, my boys! away, harkaway!", passim.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

28. Maureen, Maureen [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Oh! Maureen, Maureen, have you forgotten
  The fond confession that you made to me, 
While round us fluttered the white bog cotton,
  And o'er us waved the wild arbutus tree? 
Like bits of sky bo-peeping through the bower,
  No sooner were your blue eyes sought than flown, 
Till white and fluttering as the cotton flower
  Your slender hand it slipped into my own.

Oh! Maureen, Maureen, do you remember
  The faithful promise that you pledged to me
The night we parted in black December
  Beneath the tempest-tossed arbutus tree,
When faster than the drops from heaven flowing,
  Your heavy tears they showered with ceaseless start, 
And wilder than the storm-wind round us blowing,
  Your bitter sobs they smote upon my heart?

Oh! Maureen, Maureen, for your love only
  I left my father and mother dear;
Within the churchyard they're lying lonely,
  Tis from their tombstone I've travelled here.
Their only son, you sent me o'er the billow,
  Ochone! though kneeling they implored me stay;
They sickened, with no child to smooth their pillow; 
  They died. Are you as dead to me as they?

Oh! Maureen, must then the love I bore you --
  Seven lonesome summers of longing trust -- 
Turn like the fortune I've gathered for you,
  Like treacherous fairy treasure, [all to]1 dust? 
But Maureen bawn asthore, your proud lips quiver;
  Into your scornful eyes the tears they start; 
Your rebel hand returns to mine for ever;
  Oh! Maureen, Maureen, never more we'll part.


View original text (without footnotes)
Note: in the last stanza, Stanford abbreviates "gathered" to "gather'd" in line 3 and "treacherous" to "treach'rous" in line 4.
1 Stanford: "into"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

29. The confession [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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A lovely lass with modest mien
  Stole out one morning early;
The dew-drops glancing o'er the green
  Made all her pathway pearly.
Young Lawrence struck with Cupid's dart, --
  Cupid's dart distressing, --
As through the fields he saw her start,
  Sighed, "She's gone confessing!
O vo ! 'twould ease my heart
  To earn the Father's blessing."

The Father, with a twinkling eye,
  He watched my boyo cunning,
Unnoticed by his colleen's eye,
  Behind the bushes running. 
"How well," he laughed, "young Lawrence there,
  After all my pressing,
With his sweetheart, I declare,
  Comes at last confessing.
Oho ! I'll just take care
  To learn the lad a lesson."

The pleasant priest unbarred the door,
  As solemn as a shadow, 
"How slow," cried he, "you've come before,
  How hot-foot now, my laddo. 
The serious steal with looks sedate,
  Seeking to be shriven,
But you, you're in no fitting state
  Now to be forgiven, 
So go within and wait,
  With all your thoughts on heaven."

The fair one following in a while
  Made out her faults with meekness; 
The priest then asked her with a smile
  Had she no other weakness, 
And led with that young Lawrence in;
  Her cheeks were now confessing. 
"Well, since 'tis after all a sin
  Easy of redressing, 
Here, dear, I'd best begin
  To give you both my blessing."


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

30. An Irish lullaby [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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I'd rock my own sweet childie to rest
In a cradle of gold, on a bough of the willow,
To the sho-heen sho of the wind of the west
And the lull-a-lo of the soft sea billow.
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother is here beside your pillow.
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother is here beside your pillow.

I'd put my own sweet childie to sleep
In a silver boat on the beautiful river,
Where a sho-heen whisper the white cascades,
And a lull-a-lo the green flags shiver.
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother is here with you for ever.
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother is here with you for ever.

Lull-a-lo to the rise and fall
Of mother's bosom 'tis sleep has bound you,
And O, my child, what cosier nest for rosier rest
could love have found you?
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother's two arms are clasped around you.
Sleep, baby dear,
Sleep without fear,
Mother's two arms are clasped around you.


Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

31. A sailor lad wooed a farmer's daughter [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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A sailor once wooed a farmer's daughter,
 The fairest lass in all the country side.
She loved him well; but when he besought her
 With beating, beating heart to be his bride,
"A sailor lad," she said, "I'll never, never wed,
 And live a wife and widow all in one;
O no, my charmer shall be a farmer,
 Returning faithful with the set of sun."

At danger's [call]1, across the water
 The sailor went, but left his heart behind;
Fresh lovers whispered the farmer's daughter;
 Yet when they prayed her to confess her mind,
"A farmer's lad," she said, "I'll never, never wed,
 When heroes bleed to guard their native [strand]2.
Till war is over I need no lover:
 Then let the stoutest soldier claim my hand."

[When peace returned, escaped]3 from slaughter,
 With stars and crosses home our warriors came,
And some went wooing the farmer's daughter,
 But none could charm the lass to change her name;
[Until once more from far a gallant, gallant tar
 Began with beating heart his love to tell;]4
And sweetly turning, with blushes burning,
 She sighed: "Since first we met I've loved you well!"


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford: "warning"
2 Stanford: "land"
3 Stanford: "The war was over and safe"
4 Stanford: "Until her sailor brave returning o'er the wave/ Again with beating heart his love did tell;"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

32. Father O'Flynn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Of priests we can offer a charmin’ variety, 
Far renowned for larnin’ and piety; 
Still, I’d advance ye widout impropriety, 
Father O’Flynn as the flower of them all. 

Chorus:
  Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn, 
  Slainté and slainté and slainté agin; 
  Powerfulest preacher, and
  Tenderest teacher, and 
  Kindliest creature in ould Donegal. 

Don’t talk of your Provost and Fellows of Trinity, 
Famous forever at Greek and Latinity, 
Dad and the divels and all at Divinity 
Father O’Flynn’d make hares of them all! 
Come, I vinture to give ye my word, 
Never the likes of his logic was heard, 
Down from mythology
Into thayology, 
Troth! and conchology if he’d the call. 

Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn…..

Och! Father O’Flynn, you’ve the wonderful way wid you, 
All ould sinners are wishful to pray wid you, 
All the young childer are wild for to play wid you, 
You’ve such a way wid you, Father avick. 
Still, for all you’ve so gentle a soul, 
Gad, you’ve your flock in the grandest control, 
Checking the crazy ones, 
Coaxin' onaisy ones, 
Liftin' the lazy ones on wid the stick. 

Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn….

And tho’ quite avoidin’ all foolish frivolity; 
Still at all seasons of innocent jollity, 
Where was the play-boy could claim an equality, 
At comicality, Father, wid you? 
Once the Bishop looked grave at your jest, 
Till this remark set him off wid the rest: 
"Is it lave gaiety
All to the laity? 
Cannot the clergy be Irishmen, too?”

Here’s a health to you, Father O’Flynn….


Note: in the first verse Stanford abbreviates "renowned" to "renown'd" and "flower" to "flow'r"; in the chorus, "Powerfulest" becomes "Pow'rfulest"; in the second verse, "divels" is spelled "divils" and "vinture" is spelled "venture"; and in the third verse, "Coaxin' " is spelled "Coaxing" and "Liftin' " is spelled "Lifting"

Submitted by Mike Pearson

33. The foggy dew [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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      Oh! a wan cloud was drawn
      O'er the dim, weeping dawn,
As to Shannon's side I returned at last;
      And the heart in my breast
      For the girl I loved best
Was beating -- ah, beating, how loud and fast!
      While the doubts and the fears
      Of the long, aching years
Seemed mingling their voices with the moaning flood;
      Till full in my path,
      Like a wild water-wraith,
My true love's shadow lamenting stood.

      But the sudden sun kissed
      The cold, cruel mist
Into dancing showers of diamond dew;
      [The]1 dark flowing stream
      Laughed back to his beam,
And the lark soared singing aloft in the blue;
      While no phantom of night,
      But a form of delight
[Ran with arms outspread to]2 her darling boy:
      And the girl I love best
      On my wild, throbbing breast
Hid her thousand treasures, with a cry of joy.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford: "And the"
2 Stanford: "Stood with arms outspread for"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

34. Herring our king [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the English

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Let all the best fish that swim in the sea,
The salmon and turbot, the cod and ling,
Bow down the head and bend the knee
Before fine fresh herring our king.

Then lads and lassies come begin
Your “hungamar féin am sowra lin;”
For ‘tis we have tempted summer in
At the tail of fine fresh herring.

Thro’ all the winter we ran to rack,
For sure the herring was out of sight!
But oh! upon his silver track
The moon she winked last night.

It was in with the sails and away to shore,
Away, away with the rise and swing
Of two stout lads at each smoking oar,
After fine, fresh herring, our king;

Oh, there we hunted him full to land ,
In hissing shoals hot haste along;
And then behind him from strand to strand
We spread our nets so strong.

Such kissing of hands and waving of caps
Was never seen from girl and boy,
As he leapt by scores in the lasses’ laps,
Fresh herring our hope and joy.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

35. The hour I prove false [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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The hour I prove false to my dark-headed darling,
  Let the grass grow to crimson, the frost fall in June;
The lark cease to sing, and the rook and the starling
  With the cuckoo and blackbird come changing their tune.

A long, long farewell, [to]1 my white-bosomed deary,
  And believe I'll be faithful whatever befall;
And of working to win you by day never weary,
  And [by night]2 never tire your dear face to recall.

Ah! branch of sweet bloom only cling on as faithful
  In that absence of years as you cling to me now,
For the hour you prove false Heaven and earth would grow hateful
  Since you called them to witness your young virgin vow.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 omitted by Stanford.
2 Stanford: "in dreams"

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

36. I heard 'mid oak-trees olden [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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I heard ‘mid oak trees olden
Blackbirds unbeholden
Rain, in gushes golden,
Rapture from above.
I saw them spread their wooing,
Flying and pursuing,
Fluttering, billing, cooing,
Through the rustling grove.
And then my song I started,
How we two were parted,
We so constant hearted
To our early love.

But as I made my murmur,
Thoughts of thee, my charmer,
Made my faith grow firmer,
Till I thus could sing;
“These giddy blackbirds pairing,
April’s balmy air in,
Meet again uncaring,
With return of spring;
When we at last, delighted,
Prove the love we’ve plighted,
Until death united
By the marriage ring.”


Submitted by Mike Pearson

37. 'Tis I can weave woollen and linen [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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'Tis I can weave woollen and linen,
 The finest folk wear on their backs;
So, girls, come give over your spinnin',
 And wind off your wool and your flax!1

Five year at my woollen and linen
 I've woven from mornin' to night,
With a heart that beat heavy beginnin',
 But is leapin' for ever more light.

[For]2 with guineas full up is the stockin',
 Sewed safe in the tick of my bed,
And 'tis soon that I'll rest without rockin',
 Since at [Shrove with my Willy]3 I'll wed.


View original text (without footnotes)
1 Stanford adds this chorus after each verse:
For hark! As the bee hunts for treasure
That’s hid in the mountainy bloom,
My shuttle goes bursting with pleasure,
To gather me gold from the loom.
2 Stanford: "Now"
3 Stanford: "Shrovetide with Willy"

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor] and Mike Pearson

38. O thou of the beautiful hair [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Of all the girls with clustering curls from Kerry to Kildare,
There’s not a lass that can surpass my love with the golden hair.
Oh! if the sun should cease to shine, the moon refused her ray,
Her very shadow on the earth would turn the night to day.

Now what’s my chance to gain a glance from one so good and fair,
With all the boys from Clanmacnoise to Cork around her chair?
Yet somehow still she steals one look upon me through the throng;
And when I sing, with smiles and tears she answers to my song.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

39. One Sunday after Mass [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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One Sunday after Mass
As Lawrence and his lass
Through the green wood did pass
All alone, and all alone.

He asked her for a pogue,
But she called him a rogue,
And she beat him with her brogue,
Ochone and ochone!

At first my boy he bent,
As if to take, content,
His proper punishment.
Small blame too, small blame!

But on her purty foot,
Unbothered by a boot,
He pressed a warm salute.
For shame! fie! for shame!

Then Larry gets the worst,
For she boxed his ears at first,
Then into tears she burst,
Ochone and ochone!

But soon the artful rogue
Soothed his crying colleen oge,
Till she gave him just one pogue,
All alone, and all alone!


Submitted by Mike Pearson

40. Kitty Bawn [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Before the first ray of blushing day,
  Who should come by but Kitty [Bhan]1,
With her cheek like the rose on a bed of snows,
  And her bosom beneath like the sailing swan.
  I [looked]2 and [looked]2 till my heart was gone.
 
With the foot of the fawn she crossed the lawn,
  Half confiding and half in fear;
And her eyes of blue they [thrilled]3 me through,
  One blessèd minute; then like the deer,
  Away she [darted]4, and left me here.
 
Oh! Sun, you are late at your golden gate,
  For you've nothing to show beneath the sky
To compare to the lass who crossed the grass
  Of the shamrock field ere the dew was dry,
  And the glance that she gave me as she went by.


View original text (without footnotes)
In some editions of Graves, the title is "Kitty Bawn"
1 Carmichael (and some other editions of Graves): "Bawn"
2 Carmichael: "look'd"
3 Carmichael: "thrill'd"
4 Stanford: "started"

Submitted by Sharon Krebs [Guest Editor]

41. The poison on the darts [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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As love was busy raising stolen honey to his lips, 
A bee flew out and poisoned his pretty fingertips.
The thief he dropped his booty and, tortured with the pain,
Ran sobbing off to Venus of his treatment to complain.

“Look, Mother, how I’m wounded by just one little bee.”
“What! have you learnt a lesson at last, my lad,” said she,
“Perhaps when you’re preparing fresh arrows for our hearts,
You’ll be a shade more sparing of the poison on the darts.”


Submitted by Mike Pearson

42. When she answered me her voice was low [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the English

The text shown is a variant of another text.

It is based on


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When she answered me her voice was low,
But minstrel never matched his chords
To such a wealth of words
In Tomora’s palace long ago.

When her eyes looked back the love in mine,
Not Erin’s self upon my sight
Has started out of stormy night
With a bluer welcome o’er the brine.

And no other orbs can e’er eclipse
That magic look of maiden love,
And never song my soul shall move
Like that low sweet answer of her lips.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

43. Jenny, I'm not jesting [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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"Ah, Jenny, I'm not jesting,
Believe what I'm protesting,
And yield what I'm requesting
    These seven years through."
"Ah, Lawrence, I may grieve you;
Yet, if I can't relieve you,
Sure, why should I deceive you
    With words untrue?
But, since you must be courtin',
There's Rosy and her fortune,
'Tis rumoured you're consortin'
    With her of late.
Or there's your cousin Kitty,
So charming and so witty,
She'd wed you out of pity,
    Kind Kate."

"Fie! Jenny, since I knew you,
Of all the lads that woo you,
None's been so faithful to you,
    If truth were told: 
Even when yourself was dartin' 
Fond looks at fickle Martin,
Till off the thief went startin' 
    For Sheela's gold."
"And if you've known me longest,
Why should your love be strongest,
And his that's now the youngest,
    For that be worst?"
"Fire, Jenny, quickest kindled 
Is always soonest dwindled, 
And thread the swiftest spindled 
    Snaps first."

"If that's your wisdom, Larry,
The longer I can tarry,
The luckier I shall marry 
    At long, long last." 
"I've known of girls amusing
Their minds, the men refusing,
Till none were left for choosing
    At long, long last."
"Well, since it seems that marriage
Is still the safest carriage,
And all the world disparage
    The spinster lone;
Since you might still forsake me,
I think I'll let you take me,
Yes ! Larry, you may make me
    Your own!"


Note: Stanford abbreviates "Even" to "E'en" in line 5 of verse 2.

Submitted by Emily Ezust [Administrator]

44. The willow tree [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Oh, take me to your arms, love, for we, alas! must part;
Oh, take me to your arms, love, the pain is at my heart.
She hears me not, she cares not, but coldly keeps from me,
While here I lie, alone to die, beneath the willow tree.

My love has blooming beauty, my cheek is deadly wan;
My love has countless riches, my gallant fortunes’s gone.
This ribbon fair, that bound her hair, is all that’s left to me,
While here I lie, alone to die, beneath the willow tree.

I once had gold and silver I thought would never end:
I once had gold and silver, and I thought I had a friend:
My wealth is sped, my friend is fled and stol’n my love from me;
While here I lie, alone to die, beneath the willow tree.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

45. The banks of the daisies [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the English

The text shown is a variant of another text.

It is based on


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As Kathleen fair beyond compare
Asleep upon a bank I spied;
All upon tiptoe I sought her side
And kissed her down in the daisies.

But up she starts and on me darts
The shafts of scorn from lip and eye,
Then in a storm goes sweeping by,
And leaves me alone with the daisies.

But when next day I chanced that way,
There Kathleen blushed in all her charms,
With sighs she sank into my arms,
And we told our love to the daisies.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

46. What is life without a wife [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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What is life without a wife?
I’ll tell you since you ask it,
A thorny bower without one flower,
An empty jewel casket.

What is life without a wife?
A march without the music,
Oh what is life without a wife?
A fever without physic.

What sort is joy without a boy?
I think that I can tell it,
‘Tis just a rose without a nose
Or eye to see or smell it.

Oh what is joy without a boy?
A door without a rapper,
O what is life without a wife?
A bell without a clapper.

If that be so we’d like to know
From you inconstant rovers,
If all intend their ways to mend
And live like faithful lovers?

You hear, you hear, come answer clear,
All you inconstant rovers!
We do intend our ways to mend
And live like faithful lovers.

Come now, will you, coquettes untrue,
Renounce your roving fancies,
And just employ upon one boy
Your smiles and sighs and glances?

They will. Be Still! We will, they will
Renounce our/their roving fancies
And just employ upon one boy
Our/their smiles and sighs and glances.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

47. Fan Fitzger'l [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the English

The text shown is a variant of another text.

It is based on


See other settings of this text.


O my head’s in a whirl for your sake Fan Fitzger’l!
Ah! white bosomed pearl of the coast of Kilkee!
And here’s my hand to witness I’m kilt by the completeness
Of the cruelty and sweetness that in you so agree.

For your blue eyes beneath their black silky sheath
Go darting such death on admiring man,
Love had better point his arrows from this out against the sparrows,
For our hearts they cannot harness like your soft glances, Fan.

And what not ever spread matched the curls of your head,
For each gold waving thread it has noosed a brave boy!
While your slender nose, my jewel, sure no precipice as cruel,
Dips down from Carran Tual poor rovers to destroy.

I could go sighing on of your blush like the dawn,
And a shape like the swan ‘neath your gown’s graceful curl!
But what need, when all the village has forsook its peaceful tillage
And flown to war and pillage for your sake, Fan Fitzger’l.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

48. Molly Hewson [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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Molly bawn, white as lawn,
Rosy as the rowan spray,
Had us all in her thrall,
Young and old, and grave and gay;
For her glances through the dances
Such fond fancies o’er us shed,
None felt sure he struck the floor
With his heels or with his head.

Molly bawn, white as lawn,
Sweeter than the sugar cane,
Drops her eyes at the boys,
Never glancing back again.
Some say shyness ‘tis or coyness,
And ‘tis fineness some believe;
But at all, great and small,
I’m just laughing in my sleeve.

For there’s none ‘neath the sun
But myself could tell you why
Molly seems lost in dreams
When the saucy lads go by.
But that reason out of season
‘Twould be treason now to show;
After Lent I’m content
Father Tom and all should know.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

49. Still side by side [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English

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When at the altar
Together kneeling
To Heaven appealing, 
My loving wife,
Without one falter
Of faith, we plighted,
With hands united
Our troth through life.
And now, though anguish
Our souls has smitten,
Sad records written
On cheek and brow;
Doth our love languish?
Ah no! but nearer, 
Mavrone, and dearer
Our hearts beat now.

And though hereafter
Inconstant fortune
With cruel sporting
Our lot deride;
Her mocking laughter
Can never grieve us,
If she but leave us
Still side by side.
That prayer be granted!
And closer leaning,
Each other screening
From ev’ry blast,
We’ll face undaunted
Life’s wintriest weather,
And fall together,
Love-linked, at last.


Submitted by Mike Pearson

50. Good night [ sung text checked 1 time]

Language: English after the English

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Now good night! our feast is over,
Where in joyous troops attending,
Lord and lady, maid and lover,
Dance and song with smiles were blending.
Beauty’s smile unknown to guile,
And wit that shone but wounded none;
And manly worth and woman true,
Good night! and joy go home with you!

Good night! and softly o’er your slumbers
May your minstrel’s measures stealing
Spellbind still each care that cumbers,
Still subdue each stormy feeling.
Beauty, mirth, and wit and worth,
O fall to sleep most calm and deep,
Nor rouse till rosy morrow call,
“Awake and joy go with you all!”


Submitted by Mike Pearson

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