The Minstrel Boy

A song written by Thomas Moore (1779 to 1852). Moore studied music at Trinity College Dubln, where he discovered that Ireland was a "Land of Song." He put new words on old tunes (found mostly in Bunting's collection of Irish folk tunes) and these were very popular and known as "Moore's Melodies."

He was sympathetic towards contemporaries who took part in the rebellion of 1798 and was a friend of Robert Emmet who led and died in the Rising of 1803. He may have had Emmet alone in his mind when writing the song, or he may have been remembering also his other acquaintances who died in 1798.

The Minstrel Boy to the war is gone
In the ranks of death you will find him;
His father's sword he hath girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him;"
Land of Song!" said the warrior bard,
"Tho' 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 that proud soul under;
The harp he lov'd ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its chords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and brav'ry!
Thy songs were made for the pure and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!"

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