Poetry Explorer- Classic Contemporary Poetry, THE CROPPY BOY: (A BALLAD OF '98), by WILLIAM B. MCBURNEY



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THE CROPPY BOY: (A BALLAD OF '98), by             Poet's Biography
First Line: Good men and true! In this house who dwell
Last Line: Breathe a prayer and a tear for the croppy boy.
Alternate Author Name(s): Malone, Carroll
Subject(s): Deception; Ireland - Rebellions


'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 entered an empty hall --
What a lonely sound has his light foot-fall!
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 murmurs 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 yeoman 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 and 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 prayer and a tear for the Croppy boy.





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