February 25, 1852: Death of Thomas Moore
Read it as if you'd never heard it before:
The Minstrel-boy to the war is gone,
In the ranks of death you'll find him;
His father's sword he has girded on,
And his wild harp slung behind him. -
"Land of song!" said the warrior-bard,
"Though all the world betrays thee,
One sword, at least, thy rights shall guard,
One faithful harp shall praise thee!"
The Minstrel fell! But the foeman's chain
Could not bring his proud soul under;
The harp he loved ne'er spoke again,
For he tore its cords asunder;
And said "No chains shall sully thee,
Thou soul of love and bravery!
Thy songs were made for the brave and free,
They shall never sound in slavery!"
Thomas Moore (1779-1852), poet, satirist, composer and musician, probably wrote “The Minstrel Boy” to honor three close college friends who suffered for their part in the United Irishmen Uprising of 1798.
Byron's Tribute to Moore
In the nineteenth century Moore was as famous as Shelley and Byron, the latter of whom dedicated “To Thomas Moore” one of my favorite poetical toasts:
My boat is on the shore,
And my bark is on the sea;
But before I go, Tom Moore,
Here's a double health to thee!
Here's a sigh to those who love me,
And a smile to those who hate;
And, whatever sky's above me,
Here's a heart for every fate!
Though the ocean roar around me,
Yet it still shall bear me on;
Though a desert should surround me,
It hath springs that may be won.
Were 't the last drop in the well,
As I gasped upon the brink
Ere my fainting spirit fell,
'T is to thee that I would drink.
With that water, as this wine,
The libation I would pour
Should be, - Peace with thine and mine,
And a health to thee, Tom Moore.