Click to view the track list for CD #1
James Joyce at the Piano in Paris, 1939 James Joyce: Music in the Novels and Poems
CD #1 Songs
Artwork for CD #1 cover
Click to play music clip of track 16

From CD #1:
The Croppy Boy

Words by Carroll Malone;
air: Cailín Óg a Stór

Song Lyrics

"Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger bouchal* I pray you tell:
Is the priest at home, or may he be seen?
I would speak a word with Father Green."

"The Priest's at home, boy, and may be seen;
'Tis easy speaking with Father Green.
But you must wait till I go and see
If the Holy Father alone may be."

The youth has enter'd an empty hall;
What a lonely sound has his light footfall!
And the gloomy chamber's chill and bare,
With a vested Priest in a lonely chair.

The youth has knelt to tell his sins:
"Nomine Dei," the youth begins!
At "mea culpa" he beats his breast,
And in broken murmers he speaks the rest.

"At the siege of Ross did my father fall,
And at Gorey my loving brothers all.
I alone am left of my name and race;
I will go to Wexford and take their place.

"I cursed three times since last Easter day;
At mass time once I went to play;
I passed the churchyard one day in haste,
And forgot to pray for my mother's rest.

"I bear no hate against living thing,
But I love my country above my king.
Now, Father! bless me and let me go
To die, if God has ordained it so."

The priest said nought, but a rustling noise
Made the youth look above in wild surprise;
The robes were off, and in scarlet there
Sat a yoeman captain with fiery glare.

With fiery glare and with fury hoarse,
Instead of blessing, he breathed a curse:
"'Twas a good thought, boy, to come here to shrive,
For one short hour is your time to live.

"Upon yon river three tenders float;
The Priest's in one — if he isn't shot!
We hold his house for our Lord the King,
And, amen say I, may all traitors swing!"

At Geneva Barrack that young man died,
And at Passage they have his body laid.
Good people who live in peace and joy,
Breathe a pray'r and a tear for the Croppy Boy.

*Bouchal is Irish for "boy"; it shows up, for instance, in the tune title an bouchal caol dubh, which means "the black, slender boy," which in turn is a kenning for a liquor bottle. Another instance is in the song "The Rising of the Moon":

Oh tell me, Sean O'Farrel,
tell me why you hurry so;
"Hush! me bouchal, hush and listen,"
and his cheeks were all aglow.

The following lookup for the English boy, with the current proper Irish spelling, is from the Irish Dictionary Online:

n buachaill m3, gasúr m1, garsún m1; (young man) stócach m1.

It is interesting to note that the third synonymn, "garsún" (which is found in early sources in English as gossoon, etc.), is in fact the more familiar French loan word garçon.

Notes on the Song

Coming soon....

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