A Fire of Turf

Song Cycle by Charles Villiers Stanford, Sir (1852 - 1924)

Word count: 1232

1. A fire of turf [sung text checked 1 time]

In summer time I foot the turf
And lay the sods to dry;
South wind and lark's song,
And the sun far up in the sky.

I pile them on the turf stack
Against the time of snow;
Black frost, a gale from the north,
Who minds what winds will blow?

Now winter's here, make up the fire,
And let you bolt the door.
A wind across the mountains,
A draught across the floor.

I'll not be heeding cold or rain,
Or moaning of the wind;
With the turf fire, the hearth stone,
The notions in my mind.

I've seen a power of years itself
That's gone beyond recall;
The leaves of spring, the days of youth,
Where are they now at all?

The wither'd leaves lie in the glen,
The days of youth are dead;
Now it's long nights and long thoughts
While the sods o' turf glow red.

I see myself a barefoot child,
I see myself a lad,
When the gold upon the gorse bush
Was all the gold I had.

I do be having fine old dreams
Of days were long ago,
When the wind keens, the night falls,
And the embers glow.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

2. The chapel on the hill [sung text checked 1 time]

The chapel of my childhood
Is on the green hill-side,
And in the long grass up the hill
The graves of them that's died.
My mother often took me
When I was young and small;
I'd kneel upon her skirts and count
The Stations on the wall.

Each evening in the Maytime
The rosary we'd say:
You'd hear beyant the chapel wall
The corncrakes in the hay.
The flowers round the altar,
They made the air smell sweet,
And cool the chapel floor would be
To little childher's feet.

It's scarce a day was passing
But there I'd be a while:
I mind the way the boys' bare feet
Went patting up the aisle.
The girls would come from lessons
And kneel to say a prayer.
You'd see the noonday sunshine caught
In Mary Connor's hair.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

3. Cowslip time [sung text checked 1 time]

God bless the time when cowslips grow
High and low, high and low;
When never a place you're like to pass,
But there's cowslips deep in the meadow grass;
Over the rath when the winds do blow
They're swinging and nodding to and fro.
Oh it's well to be young when the cowslips grow!

Old age will come - what matter so?
High and low, high and low
The cowslips shine when the spring comes round,
In ev'ry meadow and patch of ground.
And you'll watch your childher's childher go
Off to the fields where the spring winds blow.
Oh! It's well for the world when the cowslips grow!


rath: earthwork.

Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

4. Scared [sung text checked 1 time]

These dusky evenings in December
I do be scared with sudden fright,
So many things you'd dis-remember
Shows quare an' darkish in the night.
Sure kilt you'd be if a dog should bark,
Or an old cow wheeze in the lonesome dark;
For who can tell who is in it at all,
With the Tax man murdered there by the wall,
An' the druidy stone foreninst the wood,
Where you'd maybe see what isn't good.
An' the haunted house.
Och! Glory be,
There's a power of terrible things you'd see
In the dark.

I'm feared itself lest some black stranger
Would step behind me on the grass;
Or goodness knows what sudden danger
Might lep upon me as I pass.
For strange an' lonesome roads do seem
Like a far-off place you'd see in a dream;
An' you'd never know who you'd meet at the turn,
Old crazy Nelly or mad John Byrne,
Or the headless one that wrings her hands,
Where the old deserted cabin stands,
Or the fairy dog.
Och! Glory be,
There's a power of terrible things you'd see
In the dark.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

5. Blackberry time [sung text checked 1 time]

In blackberry time herself and me
We do be up by the break of day,
An' "God go with us now" says she,
"The time we're thrav'llin' on our way,
An' God go with us all the while
We're thrav'llin'on from mile to mile."

'Tis up Glencullen way we are;
The berries there are fine and sweet,
But kilt you'd be, it is so far,
When you go thrav'llin'on your feet.
Och, weary miles ere you'd come down
From far Glencullen to the town.

Up there at dawn 'tis quare and still
And dew lies heavy on the ground,
But berries for a basket's fill
Grows on the bushes all around.
And whiles we'll rest and eat a few
That's sodden with the heavy dew.

We traipis round from door to door;
'Tis weary in the noonday heat.
(May God have mercy on the poor
That thravels round upon their feet!)
For sure you're moidhered in the town,
The way the carts go up and down.

But when we're quit of all our load,
"Now God be praised for that," says she;
And back we go the homeward road,
Near bet we are, herself and me.
Och! Sure the thought of home is sweet
To thim that thravels on their feet.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

6. The fair [sung text checked 1 time]

Oh! We're off to the fair now the lot of us together,
The yellow sunlight ev'rywhere - sure that's the lovely weather!
And amn't I six foot high today with pride and joy of heart,
The way I'm driving to the fair in a fine new ass-and-cart?

The pigs are screeching merrily at all the jolts and lurches,
The wonder of the world we are from here until the Churches;
And the speckly hen, poor decent bird, has lost her wits with scare,
It's well you know the noise she makes that we're going to the fair.

The quality will stare when they see the way we're driving,
The polis stand in wonderment to watch the cart arriving;
And the people that's stravagin' about the market square
Will be kilt with envy when ourselves come driving to the fair.

But the best time of all is the time the evening closes,
With a wind blowing from the south is sweet with wild hedge roses.
And we're counting out our money and proud and glad of heart
The way we're driving home again in our fine new ass-and-cart.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry

7. The West Wind [sung text checked 1 time]

Last night the air was cold and still,
No breeze was moving in Glendhu;
The golden beech leaves scarcely stirred
Above my head as I went through.

From ev'ry cottage rose the smoke,
An' not a breath its column broke.
Brown in the glen the bracken grew,
No broken leaf or stem you'd find.

But after dawn the gale awoke,
The world seem'd rocking in the wind.
Across the Wicklow hills he came,
The herdsmen felt his great wings beat;

The waves of Lough Nahanagan
Were ruffled by his flying feet;
The Vale of Clara felt him pass
Swift-foot across the meadow-grass;

They heard him where the waters meet,
He made the pines and larches sway;
He cross'd the stream at Glenmacnass,
And blew the falls to silver spray.

They heard his pipes in Glenmalure,
He sang a song of western seas;
The withered leaves in Glendalough
Rose up and rustled round his knees;

He shook the beeches of Glendhu
To golden rain as he passed through.
He bent Glencullen's tallest trees,
His breath was rough on bird and beast,

Across the mountain tops he flew
To take his pleasure in the east.
Oh, wild wind from the distant west,
Be still again, and give us rest.


Researcher for this text: Ted Perry