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Avenging and bright fall the swift sword of Erin
On him who the brave sons of Usna betrayed;
For ev'ry fond eye he hath wakened a tear in,
A drop from his heart wounds shall weep o'er her blade.

By the red cloud that hung over Conor's dark dwelling,
When Ulad's three champions lay sleeping in gore-
By the billows of war, which so often, high swelling,
Have wafted these heroes to victory's shore.

We swear to avenge them! No joy shall be tasted,
The harp shall be silent, the maiden unwed;
Our halls shall be mute, and our fields shall lie wasted
Till vengeance is wreak'd on the murderer's head.

[Yes, monarch! tho' sweet are our home recollections,
Though sweet are the tears that from tenderness fall;
Though sweet are our friendships, our hopes, our affections,
Revenge on a tyrant is sweetest of all!]

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Source: Singing Together, Spring 1972, BBC Publications

Described as "Irish Traditional tune. Words by Thomas More." The final verse, enclosed in [ ], was not included in the BBC pamphlet.

The following has been copied from a web site giving commentary on this poem:

The words of this song were suggested by the very ancient Irish story called "Deirdri, or the Lamentable Fate of the Sons of Usnach," which has been translated literally from the Gaelic, by Mr. O'Flanagan (see vol. i. of Transactions of the Gaelic Society of Dublin), and upon which it appears that the "Darthula of Macpherson" is founded. The treachery of Conor, King of Ulster, in putting to death the three sons of Usna, was the cause of a desolating war against Ulster, which terminated in the destruction of Eman. "The story (says Mr. O'Flanagan) has been, from time immemorial, held in high repute as one of the three tragic stories of the Irish. These are, 'The death of the children of Touran;' 'The death of the children of Lear' (both regarding Tuatha de Danane) and this, 'The death of the children of Usnach,' which is a Milesian story." It will be recollected that among these Melodies, there is a ballad upon the story of the children of Lear or Lir: "Silent, oh Moyle!" etc.

According to the same site, the melody is called "Crooghan a Venee."


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