The Thrush's Anvil
Our master has a-courting gone
Our mistress up above
And she has asked him for a gift
As a token of his love.
He’s ventured forth across the land,
Spreading seeds of his own demise,
Through wind and rain his voice will strain,
As he seeks a worthy prize.
Singing high, low,
The tune that we know
To the hammer of shell on stone,
The search has begun
The Thrush’s anvil rings alone.
He’s found a church up on the Downs
Of Sussex diamond built,
He’s asked the father for a sign
But he’s given naught but guilt.
By that church was an old yew tree,
With rubies it was blessed,
He’s taken one for his own true love,
To treasure in her nest.
He’s flown through seven countries
And to their monarchs sung
To beg exotic presents
He’s studied every tongue,
But nothing for our mistress
Save a berry black as coal
He’s taken from the elders
As an incidental toll.
He’s met her at the trysting tree
Among the woodland glades
He’s found his miss a mistletoe kiss
Just as the daylight fades,
This trinity of gems he’s brought
Of black and white and red
Lie gleaming in the moonlight
All upon Miss Thrush’s bed.
The stormcock’s call beckons one and all
To the shelter of safer boughs
For the tempest’s nigh, the water's high,
And dark are the evening clouds...
The sheet music and chords for The Thrush's Anvil can be found in The Wilderness Yet Songbook, available from https://www.thewildernessyet.com/
Tonight I must journey to a far-off land,
One from whence I may never return.
Farewell you fine fellows, may you understand
That my heart will for you ever yearn.
As the ship leaves the shore I will weep the more
For the friends and the lovers I've left before,
But it's you who are here who'll I'll hold most dear
When I'm standing alone at the stern.
When out 'cross the water rings a clear ahoy
And a coastline appears at the prow,
I'll think on this night and be filled with joy
For the songs that I sing with you now.
It'll always bring cheer these tunes to hear,
It'll lighten my heart and will turn my ear
When I hear them sung in a foreign tongue
And I'm standing alone at the bow.
The sheep that roam this wilderness
Have wandered for an age,
The hills are hewn by winding tracks
Like scrawls across a page,
And since I left that spot
I can no time so serene describe
Than those childhood days I spent
Down in the woods of old Mountscribe.
The smell of thatch and burning peat
Hung welcoming in the air,
My father played melodeon
In his old rocking chair
And Burren stone I hold so dear
That no blackmail or bribe
Could e'er tempt me to forget
The days I spent in old Mountscribe.
The purple heather, yellow gorse,
The moss and the bracken green
Adorn the banks and drystone walls
Along the old boreen
Where small folk wander 'mongst
The barrows of a faery tribe
In the secret nooks and crannies
Of that place known as old Mountscribe.
Twenty summers now have passed
Their tired suns slowly sink
And I, a man, sat by my door
Of twenty sad things think,
But in the dusk of evening
As I count my memories all
It's of my days in old Mountscribe
Most fondly I do recall...
Queen & Country
I'm a worker by nature I freely admit
And I spend all my days in the fields
At a tiring old trade which may well be unpaid,
But it brings all the farmers their yields.
When the sun has dropped down I will take to my bed
In the cell that my own toil has made
To arise again early and tend to the gardens
Of folks who are in their beds laid...
Oh for Queen and Country,
Though the latter is no thought of mine,
I work for all and sundry,
I'm a labourer come rain or shine.
Gone are the days when on jelly I dined
A bumbling old fool I've become,
And I hum as I go the old chants that I know
From our glory days spent in the sun.
Well the people are swarming for honey & milk
And that land that was promised of old,
But they don't understand that the crops are unmanned
And the colonies now all stand cold.
Where there once was a gate to palace of gold
Flanked by guards in their striped livery
You'll find corpses piled high 'cause the honey's run dry
To pay those from the mortuary...
The sheet music and chords for Queen & Country can be found in The Wilderness Yet Songbook, available from https://www.thewildernessyet.com/
Molly na gCuach Ní Chuilleanáin
Sombre and sober I lie
And think on the spirit that scourges me
The fruit of my darkening eye
Has flown to wherever her urges lead
Chorus: I long for the death of these dark days
Pass long lonely nights until the dawn
I long for her now and in all ways
Molly na gCuach Ní Chuilleanáin
Holed in my house on the hill
To awake to my cow's sighing every morn
What would I give for her still
Fair Molly na gCuach Ní Chuilleanáin
Were I to go to my grave
These words would the stone at my head adorn
"He died as love's faithful slave
For Molly na gCuach Ní Chuilleanáin"
Oh the Cuckoo is a pretty bird, she sings as she flies
She brings us good tidings and tells us no lies
She sucks the little birds eggs to keep her voice clear
And when she sings cuckoo, the summer draws near.
As I walked down by the side of a bush,
I heard two birds whistling; the Blackbird and the Thrush
I asked them the reason so merry they be
And the answer that they gave me: We are single and we are free.
But the Nightingale sings so sweetly for true love she knows.
She's pierced her brown breast on the thorn of a rose.
That rose once as white as the first fall of snow
Glows scarlet in the moonlight, her heartache to show.
A-walking a-talking, a-walking was I,
When I spied Cock Robin in a ditch he did lie,
I asked him who caused him such sorrow, such strife
And he told me that the Sparrow had taken his life.
So when the year's a-turning and wassailing we go,
I'll spy our small king as he dashes through the snow.
The Wren singing boldly is out aways in front
Of the boys in straw costume who are out on the hunt.
The Wilderness Yet
This darksome burn, horseback brown,
His rollrock highroad roaring down,
In coop and in comb the fleece of his foam
Flutes and low to the lake falls home.
A windpuff-bonnet of fáwn-fróth
Turns and twindles over the broth
Of a pool so pitchblack, féll-frówning,
It rounds and rounds Despair to drowning.
Chorus: What would the world be, once bereft
Of wet and of wildness? Let them be left,
O let them be left, wildness and wet;
Long live the weeds and the wilderness yet.
Degged with dew, dappled with dew
Are the groins of the braes that the brook treads through,
Wiry heathpacks, flitches of fern,
And the beadbonny ash that sits over the burn.
Where hares hold council and dread-drakes sport
The cope-carlied trout to the turf resort
And boglarks flout their fine fanfare
Corkscrewing song through the high sky air.
Hear the bleating heather-blades
And bitterns as the daylight fades
A symphony of sound and then
The silence from the world of men.
When all is seared and smeared with toil
Man’s smudge and smell ploughed through the soil
He’ll plod his shod unfeeling feet
Onwards ‘cross the cold concrete.
The sheet music/harmony parts for The Wilderness Yet can be found in The Wilderness Yet Songbook, available from https://www.thewildernessyet.com/
(The original poem used for the song is called Inversnaid and was written by Gerard Manley Hopkins. I wrote the verses in bold)
Robin & The Banker
I sing to you of a banker bold
A banker bold he chanced to be
He got his pack up on his back
And went a-rambling o'er the lea.
By chance he met with two grey-clad men
Two grey-clad men he chanced there upon
The one of them was brave Robin Hood
And his companion was Little John.
“Banker pray tell what's in your pack
What's in your pack I would know..."
“I have a pittance of worthless coin
And useless bonds that I'm owed."
Then Robin Hood he drew out his sword
But this bold banker stood fast
They fought till blood in a river ran
The banker gave ground at last.
Robin opened the banker's pack
And golden guineas spilled out
But he found one tiny penny there
And with this he turned about.
“If every banker who came this way
Gave just one penny to me
I'd raise enough to feed all starved folk
Who ramble over the lea."
“I'd have the riches to nurse the sick
The means to shelter the poor,
If only courts throughout all the land
Would make this small tax the law!"
The Lonely Isle
Ye brave young souls of Albion
Who, spent by all and spared by none,
Are dealt a fateful fatal blow
By those I'll here revile.
We've lost our freedom for to roam
Far far away from our native home
For work in blind old Blighty
We now are bound a while
For from our continent we cleave
And cast a vote to take our Leave
To become that great grey nation
That they'll call The Lonely Isle.
Now England is with plenty blessed
But the people, they are sore oppressed
All by those wolfish tyrants
With a smirk behind their smile.
A well-placed lie of promised wealth
To spend upon the public health
Convinced our sheepish elders
For to opt for self-exile,
But still we have austerity
Supposed to bring prosperity
But cuts of such severity
They heap problems on the pile
And so it falls to younger hands
To hold the ties to union lands
And to heal the reputation
Of their sad and Lonely Isle.
Although it seems we're cut adrift
There is yet time to mend the rift
Put politicians in the dock
To face a public trial.
A concrete case we'll easily mount
To hold the bastards to account
With wink and nudge the high-court judge
Will smell their guilt and guile.
When rich men grow their greed to rue
We'll pay the working man his due
And march in solidarity
Among the rank and file,
We'll banish discord from our land
In harmony we'll make our stand
No more shall we be known as
A sad and Lonely Isle...
Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna
Once I awoke with pleasure 'neath oak's dappled sun & golden leaf
I heard the horn a-blowing and the birdsong on the breeze
There was coney, deer and beaver fleeing pointer and retriever
But above the din of hunting was the music of the trees.
The winded fox he flew through the foggy mountain dew
Taking refuge in the forests and the verdant glens of yore
Now from this arboreal slaughter we must travail o'er the water
Oh for Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna, your pleasure is no more...
These lands of ours are plundered and our friends & neighbours sundered
Leaving those who'd fight for freedom underneath the bramble screen
The plight of our poor nation only stokes our desperation
As we see the decimation of our shelters gold & green
The wrath of god we brave as the priest flees to his cave
From those foes of ours who crave a sacrificial blood and gore
If peace comes but a small way I will journey down to Galway
Oh but Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna, your pleasure is no more...
Gone the home of childhood with the felling of the wildwood
And I've witnessed wanton ruining of all of my high hopes
When I my sleep was spurning I would watch the sun returning
And the autumn maples burning oh the jewels of woodland slopes
But the antlered noble stag banished to his mountain crag
Will stand as proud as ever when the days of man are o'er
And we so broken-hearted from the joys of nature parted
Oh for Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna, your pleasure is no more...
The sheet music for Seán Ó Duibhir a' Ghleanna can be found in The Wilderness Yet Songbook, available from https://www.thewildernessyet.com/
Of Men Who'll Never Know
The sharp prongs of winter
Bleed blunt hours of light
As short summer days
Give way to long nights
And creatures of bush and briar
Leave feetings in fresh snow
On highways and byways
Of men who'll never know...
We worked and we wept
For the pains of our kind
As grief grew unchecked
In our hearts and our minds
Now gone are the gods
And all their creatures great and small
They stand hand in hand
At the ruin of all...
The last of us waiting
A question on her breath
Knows well that an answer
Will always bring a death
With sap in her veins
Her tongue collecting rust
Sing "Ashes to ashes"
Sing "Dust to dust..."
The sheet music for Of Men Who'll Never Know can be found in The Wilderness Yet Songbook, available from https://www.thewildernessyet.com/