Verse > Padraic Colum > Anthology of Irish Verse
Padraic Colum (1881–1972).  Anthology of Irish Verse.  1922.
10. Let Us Be Merry Before We Go
By John Philpot Curran
IF SADLY thinking, with spirits sinking,
Could, more than drinking, my cares compose
A cure for sorrow from sighs I’d borrow,
And hope to-morrow would end my woes.
But as in wailing there’s nought availing,        5
And Death unfailing will strike the blow,
Then for that reason, and for a season,
Let us be merry before we go.
To joy a stranger, a wayworn ranger,
In every danger my course I’ve run;        10
Now hope all ending, and death befriending,
His last aid lending, my cares are done.
No more a rover, or hapless lover,
My griefs are over—my glass runs low;
Then for that reason, and for a season,        15
Let us be merry before we go.
Properly the title of this poem is “The Deserter’s Meditation.” Because of its structure with its remarkable internal rhymes one might be led to believe that it reproduces a Gaelic form: the resemblance to the Great Rannaigheacht metre is noticeable. The Rannaigheacht metres, however, make lines of seven syllables. Dr. Hyde’s example of verse in the Great Rannaigheacht is from a comic poem that he translates—
        To hear handsome women weep
In deep distress sobbing sore,
Or gangs of geese scream from far—
They sweeter are than Art’s snore.

  See a “Literary History of Ireland.” The poet of “The Deserter’s Meditation,” John Philpot Curran, was an Irishspeaker from childhood, and this poem of his marks the first departure in Anglo-Irish poetry from the traditional English forms and towards Gaelic forms. He was the greatest of Irish orators, and his defence of Peter Finnerty is amongst the high achievements in oratory. The fact that he was the father of Sarah Curran, Robert Emmet’s sweetheart, brings him into Irish romantic history.


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