The Croppy Boy

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OriginalIl testo è del poeta irlandese William B. McBurney che lo pubblicò s...

It was early early 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 last Tuesday night,
The yeoman cavalry gave me a fright;
The yeoman cavalry was my downfall,
And taken was I by Lord Cornwall.

It was to the guard-house I then was led,
And in a parlour I was tried;
My sentence passed and my courage low
To New Geneva 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 walking 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.

My sister Mary heard the express,
She ran upstairs in her morning dress
Five hundred guineas she would lay down,
To see me liberated in Wexford Town.

As I was walking up Wexford Hill,
Who could blame me to cry my fill?
I looked behind and I looked before,
But my tender mother I shall ne'er see more.

As I was mounted on the platform 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 Geneva this young man died,
And in Geneva his body lies;
All you good Christians that do pass by
Breathe a prayer, shed a tear for the Croppy Boy

"Good men and true in this house who dwell,
To a stranger bouchal(4) 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(5) did my father fall,
And at Gorey(6) 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(3) that young man died,
And at Passage(7) they have his body laid.
Good people who live in peace and joy,
Breathe a pray'r and a tear for the Croppy Boy.

3) la caserma Ginevra vicino a Passage East, porto di Waterford era diventata anche sede di prigionia dei ribelli.
4) bouchal (buachail) è un termine in irlandese per ragazzo
5) la battaglia di New Ross sul fiume Barrow faceva parte del tentativo dei ribelli di diffondere la rivolta presso la contea di Kilkenny. La battaglia infuriò per tutto il giorno del 4 giugno 1798 con i ribelli che pur riuscendo a fare irruzione in città vennero alla fine respinti. Si sono conteggiate quasi 3.000 vittime tra i ribelli
6) Gorey piccola cittadina vicino a Wexford
7) Passage East, piccolo villaggio di pescatori sulla riva occidentale del porto di Waterford: nel cimitero della chiesa di Crooke c'è ancora la lapide del Croppy Boy

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