The Dirge of Carolan

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Melody - Irish Air, "The fair Maid of Wieklow"
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Robert Tannahill

Ye maids of green Erin, why sigh ye so sad?
The summer is smiling, all nature is glad.
The summer may smile, and the shamrock may bloom,
But the pride of green Erin lies cold in the tomb;
And his merits demand all the tears that we shed,
Though they ne'er can awaken the slumbering dead,
Yet still they shall flow--for dear Carolan we mourn,
For the soul of sweet music now sleeps in his urn.

2. Ye bards of our isle, join our grief with your songs,
For the deepest regret to his mem'ry belongs;
In our cabins and fields, on our mountains and plains,
How oft have we sung to his sweet melting strains!
Ah! these strains shall survive, long as time they shall last,
Yet they now but remind us of joys that are past;
And our days, crown'd with pleasure, can never return,
For the soul of sweet music now sleeps in his urn.

3. Yes, thou pride of green Erin, thy honours thou'lt have,
Seven days, seven nights, we shall weep round thy grave !
And thy harp, that so oft to our ditties has rung,
To the lorn-sighing breeze o'er thy grave shall be hung!
And the song shall ascend, thy bright worth to proclaim,
That thy shade may rejoice in the voice of thy fame:
But our days, crown'd with pleasure, can never return,
For the soul of sweet music now sleeps in thine urn.


"Carolan is the most celebrated of all the modern Irish bards. He was born in the village of Nobber, county of Westmeath, in 1670, and died in 1739. He never regretted the loss of his sight, but used gaily to say, 'My eyes are only transported into my ears.' It has been said of his music, by O'Connor, the celebrated historian, who knew him intimately, that so happy, so elevated, was he in some of his compositions, he attained the approbation of that great master, Geminiani, who never saw him. His execution, too, on the harp, was rapid and impressive, far beyond that of all the professional competitors of the age in which he lived. The charms of women, the pleasures of conviviality, and the power of poesy and music, were at once his theme and inspiration; and his life was an illustration of his theory; for, until his last ardour was chilled by death, he loved, drank, and sang. While in the fervour of composition, he was constantly heard to pass sentence on his own effusions, as they arose on his harp, or breathed from his lips; blaming and praising, with equal vehemence, the unsuccessful effort and felicitous attempt. He was the welcome guest of every house, from the peasant to the prince, but, in the true wandering spirit of his profession, he never stayed to exhaust that welcome. He lived and died poor." - This note is taken from "The Wild Irish Girl," by Miss Owenson, (Lady Morgan).

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