Monday, July 04, 2005

The Croppy Boy, as sung by Mary

The following comes to the net courtesy of and Mary. The song is a feature of The Rocks, a chapter of Joyce' Ulysses. Chapters 10-12. Notes on Joyce says of this song:

While "The Sirens" is noted for its obvious parallels to the corresponding Homeric episode, it is one of the most critically studied chapters because of Joyce's extensive musical references. Expanding the theme of "The Sirens" to music as a whole, Joyce fuses Bloom's letter with lines from the opera Martha. In the Ormond bar, Ben Dollard sings of the Croppy Boy, a young Irish boy soldier who is a revered hero of folk song. After his regiment was entirely destroyed, the Croppy Boy sought to escape before eventually finding himself trapped by a British soldier who had disguised himself as a priest.

It was early, early all in the spring
The birds did whistle and sweetly sing,
Changing their notes from tree to tree
And the song they sang was Old Ireland free.

It was early early all in the night,
The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;
The yeoman cavalry were my downfall
And I was taken by Lord Cornwall.

'Twas in the guard-house where I was laid,
And in a parlour where I was tried;
My sentence passed and my courage low
When to Dungannon I was forced to go.

As I was passing my father's door
My brother William stood at the door;
My aged father stood at the door
And my tender mother her hair she tore.

As I was walkin' up Wexford Street
My own first cousin I chanced to meet;
My own first cousin did me betray
And for one bare guinea swore my life away.

As I was walking up Wexford Hill
Who could blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind, and I looked before
But my aged mother I shall see no more.

And as I was standing on the scaffold high
My aged father was standing by;
My aged father did me deny
And the name he gave me was the Croppy Boy.

It was in Dungannon this young lad died
And in Dungannon his body lies.
So all good people that do pass by
Just shed a tear for the Croppy Boy.

[I've taken the liberty to modify the verse from what appears on the page to what is actually sung by Mary, with one addition of my own, which is to change "man" in the last written verse to "lad." This is not meant to take anything away from the memory of the man who died, but to add poignancy to a young life cut short.]

Happy Fourth of July, everyone!


Post a Comment

<< Home