Moore and McDonagh

The Irish peasant to his mistress (Thro’ grief and thro’ danger) is from the Third Number of the Irish Melodies which was first published in the Summer of 1810. An undated manuscript copy of the lyrics to the first verse in the hand of poet, playwright and 1916 signatory Thomas McDonagh is extant at the National Library of Ireland; A digitised version of this source is available to view online by following this link;

The lyrics to many of Moore’s Irish Melodies are well known for their political and nationalistic content and themes; subjects which may well have resonated with McDonagh. The lyrics for the complete song are transcribed below.


Thro’ grief and thro’ danger thy smile hath cheer’d my way,
Till hope seem’d to bud from each thorn that round me lay;
The darker our fortune, the brighter our pure love burn’d
Till shame into glory, till fear into zeal was turn’d;
Oh! salve as I was, in thy arms my spirit felt free,
And bless’d e’en the sorrows that made me more dear to thee.

Thy rival was honour’d, while thou wert wrong’d and scorn’d;
Thy crown was of briers, while gold her brows adorn’d;
She woo’d me to temples, while thou lay’st hid in caves;
Her friends were all masters, while thin, alas! were slaves;
Yet, cold in the earth, at thy feet I would rather be,
Than wed what I loved not, or turn one thought from thee.

They slander thee sorely, who say thy vows are frail-
Hadst thou been a false one, thy cheek had look’d less pale!
They say too, so long thou hast worn those ling’ring chains;
That deep in thy heart they have printed their servile stains;
Oh! do not believe them – no chain could that soul subdue;
Where shineth thy spirit, there liberty shineth too!

Image Courtesy of Special Collections, McClay Library, Queen’s University Belfast

The Irish Peasant to His Mistress
The Irish Peasant to His Mistress

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *