The Minstrel Boy
The minstrel boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him;
His father's sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;
"Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Though all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring his proud soul under;
The harp he loved ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free
They shall never sound in slavery!"
The minstrel boy is Robert Emmet,
an Irish revolutionary,
who was executed in 1803.
His fiancée, Sarah Curran,
is also the subject
of one of Moore’s poems.
She found herself forced to flee
from Ireland to France
in the aftermath of Emmet’s execution.
She is far from the land where her young hero sleeps,
and lovers are round her, sighing.
But coldly she turns from their gaze, and weeps,
for her heart in his grave is lying.
She sings the wild songs of her dear native plains,
ev'ry note which she loved awakening.
Ah! little they think who delight in her strains,
How the heart of the minstrel is breaking.
He had lived for his love, for his country he died,
they were all that to life had entwined him.
Nor soon shall the tears of his country be dried,
nor long will his love stay behind him.
Oh! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest,
when they promise a glorious morrow;
they'll shine o'er her sleep like a smile from the West,
from her own loved island of sorrow.
(Original: Thomas Moore Kilkenny)