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Lyr Add: Message of Peace (O'Reilly, Tyrrell)

Ezio 16 Jan 98 - 05:23 AM
alanabit 08 Jan 09 - 11:53 AM
Jim Dixon 10 Jan 09 - 02:07 PM
MartinRyan 10 Jan 09 - 02:31 PM
MartinRyan 10 Jan 09 - 02:34 PM
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Subject: Lyr Add: MESSAGE OF PEACE (John Boyle O'Reilly)
From: Ezio
Date: 16 Jan 98 - 05:23 AM


Poem: John Boyle O' Reilly*; music: Seàn Tyrrell)

There once was a pirate greedy an bold,
Who ravaged for gain, and saved the spoils;
'Til his coffers were burstin' with blood stained gold
And millions of captives bore his toils.

The fear took hold of him, and he cried:
"I have gathered enough, now, war should cease!"
And he sent out messengers far and wide
(To the strong ones only) to ask for peace

"We are Christian brethren!" thus he spake;
"Let us seal a contract - never to fight!
Except against rebels who dare to break
The bonds we have made by victor's right"

And the strong ones listen; and some applaud
At the kindly offer and the righteous word;
With never a dream of deceit or fraud,
They would spike the cannon or break the sword

But others, their elders, listened and smiled
At the sudden convert's unctuous style.
They watch for the peacemaker's change of way;
Even now, while his godly messengers speak,
His guns are aflame on his enemies weak.
He has stolen the blade from the hand of his foe,
And he strikes the unarmed a merciless blow

To the ends of the earth his oppression runs,
While the rebels are blown from the mouths of his guns.
His war-tax devours his subject's food;
He taxes their evil, he taxes their good;
He taxes their salt 'til it rots their blood.
And leaps on the friendless as on a prey,
And slinks, tail-down, from the strong one's way.
The Pharisee's cant goes up for peace,
But the cries of his victims never cease;
The stifled voices of brave men rise
From a thousand cells; while his rascal spies
Are spending their blood-money fast and free

And this is the Christmas to oversee
A world of evil! A saint to preach!
A holy well-doer come to teach!
A prophet to tell us that war should cease!
This is a pious example of Christian peace!

Sung by Seàn Tyrrell on "Cry of a dreamer" (1995)

* John Boyle O'Reilly: born near Drogheda, nearly in the shadow of Tara. Enlisted in the English Cavalry in order to convert fellow Irishmen to fenianism. He was arrested, court-martialed and transported to Australia. He escaped on board an American whaler and on arrival in Boston he soon became involved in anti-slavery activity. He was a man of immense integrity and on his death he was mourned by America from the President to the man-in-the street.

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Message of peace
From: alanabit
Date: 08 Jan 09 - 11:53 AM

That is a great poem. Does anyone understand the apparent gibberish on the subsequent post?



Gibberish post deleted.....


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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Message of peace
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:07 PM

I don't know what the song sounds like, but it's certainly an extraordinary poem. You can see the original in Life of John Boyle O'Reilly by James Jeffrey Roche
"Together with His Complete Poems and Speeches" edited by James Jeffrey Roche (New York: Cassell Publishing Company, 1891)

There are 3 important differences:
1. Verse 5, line 1 should have "listen and smile." This corrects an awkward switch from past tense to present tense in the next lines.
2. There is a missing line after verse 5 line 3: "But his war-forges roar by night and by day." This completes the rhyme with "way."
3. In verse 7, line 1, the word is "Christian," not "Christmas."

It must have been a challenge to fit this poem to music, with its irregular stanza length and rhyme scheme.

I notice it could be somewhat regularized by reformatting it into 10 stanzas all having 4 lines—except for the 7th having 5—but even that is rather strange.

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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Message of peace
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:31 PM

Seán Tyrrell has done a lot of work in setting such poems to music. Not all have a regular stanza-based structure - they can be recitative (I think that's the word I'm looking for!) in character. I may have this one on CD - I'll check it out.


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Subject: RE: LYR ADD: Message of peace
From: MartinRyan
Date: 10 Jan 09 - 02:34 PM

BTW, Seán is an extraordinary live performer - don't miss him if you ever have a chance.


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