“Here is another religious poem which is also to be still found in the County Mayo. I wrote down the first part of it from the mouth of Michael MacRury, or Rogers, from that county, and I afterwards got the last five verses of it, which he had not got, from Martin O’Callally, in Erris, in the same county.” – The Religious Songs of Connacht : A Collection of Poems, Stories, Prayers, Satires, Ranns, Charms, etc. (Translated from the Gaelic by) Douglas Hyde. 1906

Holy was good St. Joseph
___When marrying Mary Mother,
Surely his lot was happy,
___Happy beyond all other.

Refusing red gold laid down,
___And the crown by David worn,
With Mary to be abiding
___And guiding her steps forlorn.

One day when the twain were talking,
___And walking through gardens early,
Where cherries were redly growing,
___And blossoms were blowing rarely,

Mary the fruit desired,
___For faint and tired she panted,
At the scent on the breezes’ wing,
___Of the fruit that the King had planted.

Then spake to Joseph, the Virgin,
___All weary and faint and low,
“O pull me yon smiling cherries
___That fair on the tree do grow.

“For feeble I am, and weary,
___And my steps are but faint and slow,
And the works of the King of the graces
___I feel within me grow.”

Then out spake the good St. Joseph,
___And stoutly indeed spake he,
“I shall not pluck thee one cherry,
___Who art unfaithful to me.

“Let him come fetch you the cherries,
___Who is dearer than I to thee,”
Then Jesus hearing St. Joseph,
___Thus spake to the stately tree :

“Bend low in her gracious presence,
___Stoop down to herself, tree,
That my mother herself may pluck thee,
___And take thy burden from thee.”

Then the great tree lowered her branches
___At hearing the high command,
And she plucked the fruit that it offered,
___Herself with her gentle hand.

Loud shouted the good St. Joseph,
___He cast himself on the ground,
“Go home and forgive me, Mary,
___To Jerusalem I am bound ;
I must go to the holy city,
___And confess my sin profound.”

Then out spake the gentle Mary,
___She spake with a gentle voice,
“I shall not go home, O Joseph,
___But I bid thee at heart rejoice,
For the King of Heaven shall pardon
___The sin that was not of choice.”

* * * * *

Three months from that self-same morning,
___The blessed child was born,
Three kings did journey to worship
___That babe from the lands of the morn.

Three months from that very evening,
___He was born there in a manger,
With asses, and kine and bullocks,
___In the strange cold place of a stranger.

To her child said the Virgin softly,
___Softly she spake and wisely,
“Dear Son of the King of Heaven,
___Say what may in life betide Thee.”


“I shall be upon Thursday, Mother,
___Betrayed and sold to the foeman,
And pierced like a sieve on Friday,
___With nails by the Jew and Roman.

On the streets shall my heart’s blood flow,
___And my head on a spike be planted,
And a spear through my side shall go,
___Till death at the last be granted.

Then thunders shall roar with lightnings,
___And a storm over earth come sweeping,
The lights shall be quenched in the heavens
___And the sun and the moon be weeping.

While angels shall stand around me,
___With music and joy and gladness,
As I open the road into heaven,
___That was lost by the first man’s madness.”

* * * * *

Christ built that road into heaven,
___In spite of the Death and Devil,
Let us when we leave the world
___Be ready by it to travel.

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Filed under Bardic Poetry & Christian Verse, Celtic Miscellany

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