Brown William The Power of the Harp and Other Ballads

Poetry/
#English # Irish # Scottish # Welsh #Poetry
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Excerpt BROWN WILLIAM This ballad was written in consequence of the execution of William Christian, generally called William Donn, or Brown William, from the darkness of his complexion, who was shot at Hango Hill, near Castletown, in the Isle of Man, shortly after the Restoration, for alleged treason to the Derby family, who long possessed the sovereignty of Man. . . . The ballad of “Brown William,” which gives an account of the betrayal of the poor patriot, and the vengeance taken by the hand of God upon his murderers, is the most popular of all the wild songs of Ellan Vannin. Let no one in greatness too confident be,Nor trust in his kindred, though high their degree;For envy and rage will lay any man low:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Thou wast the Receiver of Mona’s fair state,Thy conduct was noble, thy wisdom was great,And ne’er of thy rule did she weariness show:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Thy right hand was Earley, and Theah thy right eye;Thy state caused thy foemen with rage to swell high;And envy and rage will lay any man low:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. How blest thy condition in fair Ronaldsway!Thy mansion, how stately! thy garden, how gay!But oh! what disasters from envy do flow:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. ’Twas said at thy trial, by men void of faith,The king, by a letter, demanded thy death;The jury was frighten’d, and dared not say “No!”Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. The clan of wild Colcad could ne’er be at restWhilst the race of Christeen their own acres possess’d;And envy and spite will bring any man low:Thy murder Brown William, fills Mona with woe. A band of adulterers, curst and unholy,For Ronaldsway lust, as they did for Logh Molley;Of Naboth, the tragedy’s played here anew:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Not one of the band but received his just meed,Who acted a part in that damnable deed;To dwindle away the whole band was not slow:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. To Callaghyn-doo, and to Vannyster roam,And call on the Colcad till hoarse ye become;Gone, gone is the name so well known long ago:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. A cripple was Robin for many years long,Who troubled and bullied the island when strong;His own friends of tending him weary did grow:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Sly Richard took ship with thy blood on his hand,But God can avenge on the sea as on land;The waves would not bear him, but whelm’d him, I trow:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. And now, if a few of the seed do remain,They’re vile as the thistles and briars of the plain;They ply for their neighbours the pick and the hoe:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Should ye walk through all Man you’ll find no one, I reckon,To mourn for the name that was once in Beemachan;But thousands of poor who rejoice that ’tis low:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Proceed to Creganyn, and Balla-logh green,But where’s there a Colcad to bid ye walk in?By strangers their homes and their lands are held now:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. Great Scarlett, in wealth who dwelt down by the bay,Must toil now with paupers for sixpence a-day;And oft, as I’ve heard, has no morsel to chew:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. The band by whose weapons the great Cæsar diedWere hunted by foes, and all peace were denied;Not one died the death of kind Nature, O, no!Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. So it fared with the band by whom Willie did die,Their lands are a waste, their names stink to the sky;They melted like rime in the ruddy sun’s glow:Thy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe. But comfort I take, for ’tis common reportThere are shoots of dear Will who are sitting at court,Who have punished his foes by king’s mandate, althoughThy murder, Brown William, fills Mona with woe....
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