The Croppy Boy

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“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 speak 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 footfall!
And the gloomy chamber’s still 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 living 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 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 up in wild surprise:
The robes were off, and in scarlet there
Sat a yeoman captain with a 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 and King,
and amen say I, may all traitors swing!”

At Geneva Barrack that young man died,
And at Passae 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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