Sunday, October 02, 2005

The Foggy Dew

As down the glen one Easter morn to a city fair rode I
There Armed lines of marching men in squadrons passed me by
No fife did hum nor battle drum did sound it's dread tatoo
But the Angelus bell o'er the Liffey swell rang out through the foggy dew
Right proudly high over Dublin Town they hung out the flag of war
'Twas better to die 'neath an Irish sky than at Sulva or Sud El Bar
And from the plains of Royal Meath strong men came hurrying through
While Britannia's Huns, with their long range guns sailed in through the foggy dew

'Twas Britannia bade our Wild Geese go that small nations might be free
But their lonely graves are by Sulva's waves or the shore of the Great North Sea
Oh, had they died by Pearse's side or fought with Cathal Brugha
Their names we will keep where the fenians sleep 'neath the shroud of the foggy dew
But the bravest fell, and the requiem bell rang mournfully and clear
For those who died that Eastertide in the springing of the year
And the world did gaze, in deep amaze, at those fearless men, but few
Who bore the fight that freedom's light might shine through the foggy dew

Ah, back through the glen I rode again and my heart with grief was sore
For I parted then with valiant men whom I never shall see more
But to and fro in my dreams I go and I'd kneel and pray for you,
For slavery fled, O glorious dead, when you fell in the foggy dew.

Charles O'Neill, "The Foggy Dew"(c. 1919)
For those of you who might not know, this song comemmorates the Irish Easter Uprising of 1916. I've been listening to a stunning version of it by a local celtic/bluegrass group called Trasna, which despite my best intentions, brings tears to my eyes.
It annoys me that I am so moved by it, because it's songs like this that keep people killing each other long beyond any recollection of original cause or insult. On the other hand, I'm pretty much a dead-on sucker for appeals to Irish emotionalism. This ranks right up there with "Thousands Are Sailing" in my book for helping explain why the Irish are so goddam...Irish.
This for sure will be all over the pubs, come next St. Patrick's Day.

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