« AnteriorContinuar »
letter to the Marchioness of Donegal, prefixed to the third number of the Melodies :
“ It has often been remarked, and oftener felt, that our music is the truest of all comments upon our history. The tone of defiance, succeeded by the langour of despondency-a burst of turbulence dying away into softness—the sorrows of one moment lost in the levity of the next-and all that romantic mixture of mirth and sadness, which is naturally produced by the efforts of a lively temperament to shake off, or forget the wrongs which lie upon it : such are the features of our history and character, which we find strongly and faithfully reflected in our music; and there are many airs which, I think, it is difficult to listen to without recalling some period or event to which their expression seems peculiarly applicable. Sometimes, when the strain is open and spirited, yet shaded here and there with a mournful recollection, we can fancy that we behold the brave allies of Montrose, marching to the aid of the royal cause, notwithstanding all the perfidy of Charles and his ministers, and remembering just enough of past sufferings to enhance the generosity of the present sacrifice. The plaintive melodies of Carolan take us back to the times in which he lived, when our poor countrymen were driven to worship their God in caves, or to quit for ever the land of their birth (like the bird that abandons the nest which human touch has violated); and in many a song do we hear the last farewell of the exile, mingling regret for the ties he leaves at home, with sanguine expectations of the honours that await him abroad
such honours as were won on the field of Fontenoy, where the valour of Irish Catholics turned the fortune of the day in favour of the French, and extorted from George the Second that memorable exclamation : Cursed be the laws which deprived me of such subjects !"
As these songs are so well known, and as they can be purchased for a trifle, we only insert a few as illustrations of the national sentiment and the poetical beauty of Moore's greatest work.
The first song was written on poor Emmet; the second on Miss Curran, between whom and Emmet there existed a deep affection—an affection which cost Emmet his life, forthough he could have escaped from Ireland, he returned from his retreat in Wicklow to the neighbourhood of Dublin to look again on one to whom he was so deeply attached.
OH! BREATHE NOT HIS NAME.
Oh ! breathe not his name, let it sleep in the shade,
SHE IS FAR FROM THE LAND.
And lovers are round her sighing-
For her heart in his grave is lying !
Every note which he lov'd awaking-
How the heart of the Minstrel is breaking !
They were all that to life had entwin'd him
Nor long will his love stay behind him.
Oh ! make her a grave where the sunbeams rest,
When they promise a glorious morrow; They'll shine o'er her sleep, like a smile from the West,
From her own lov'd Island of sorrow!
ERIN! O ERIN !
Like the bright lamp that shone in Kildare's holy fanc,
And burn'd thro' long ages of darkness and storm, Is the heart that afflictions have come o'er in vain,
Whose spirit outlives them, unfading and warm!
Thy sun is but rising when others are set ;
The full noon of freedom shall beam round thee yet. Erin ! 0 Erin ! tho' long in the shade, Thy star will shine out when the proudest shall fade.
Unchill'd by the rain, and unwak'd by the wind,
The lily lies sleeping through winter's cold hour, Till Spring, with a touch, her dark slumber unbind,
And daylight and liberty bless the young flower. Erin ! 0 Erin! thy winter is past, And the hope, that liv'd thro' it, shall blossom at last.
DEAR HARP OF MY COUNTRY.
Dear Harp of my Country ! in darkness I found thee,
The cold chain of silence had hung o'er thee long, When proudly, my own Island Harp! I unbound thee
And gave all thy chords to light, freedom, and song. The warm lay of love and the light note of gladness
Have waken'd thy fondest, thy liveliest thrill; But so oft hast thou echoed the deep sigh of sadness,
That ev'n in thy mirth it will steal from thee still. Dear Harp of my Country, farewell to thy numbers,
This sweet wreath of song is the last we shall twine; Go, sleep with the sunshine of Fame on thy slumbe
Till touch'd by some hand less unworthy than mine. If the pulse of the patriot soldier, or lover,
Have throbb'd at our lay, 'tis thy glory alone; I was but as the wind passing heedlessly over,
And all the wild sweetness I wak'd was thy own.
WHERE IS THE SLAVE?
Who, could he burst
His bonds at first,
When thus its wing
At once may spring
who made it ?
Less dear the laurel growing,
Than that whose braid
The friends we've tried
Are by our side,
FORGET NOT THE FIELD.
Forget not the field where they perishd,
The truest, the last of the brave, All gone-and the bright hope we cherish'd
Gone with thein, and quench'd in the grave.
Oh! could we from death but recover
Those hearts as they bounded before, In the face of high heav'n to fight over
That combat for freedom once more ;
Could the chain for an instant be riven
Which Tyranny flung round us then, Oh! 'tis not in Man nor in Heaven,
To let Tyranny bind it again !
But 'tis past-and, tho' blazon'd in story
The name of our Victor may be, Accurst is the march of that glory,
Which treads o'er the hearts of the free.
Far dearer the grave or the prison
Illum'd by one patriot name,
On Liberty's ruins to fame