William Butler Yeats

(13 June 1865 – 28 January 1939 / County Dublin / Ireland)

Three Songs To The Same Tune


I
GRANDFATHER sang it under the gallows:
' Hear, gentlemen, ladies, and all mankind:
Money is good and a girl might be better.
But good strong blows are delights to the mind.'
There, standing on the catt,
He sang it from his heart.
Those fanatics all that we do would undo;
Down the fanatic, down the clown;
Down, down, hammer them down,
Down to the tune of O'Donnell Abu.
'A girl I had, but she followed another,
Money I had, and it went in the night,
Strong drink I had, and it brought me to sorrow,
But a good strong cause and blows are delight.'
All there caught up the tune:
'On, on, my darling man'.
Those fanatics all that we do would undo;
Down the fanatic, down the clown;
Down, down, hammer them down,
Down to the tune of O'Donnell Abu.
'Money is good and a girl might be better,
No matter what happens and who takes the fall,
But a good strong cause' -- the rope gave a jerk there,
No more sang he, for his throat was too small;
But he kicked before he died,
He did it out of pride.
Those fanatics all that we do would undo;
Down the fanatic, down the clown;
Down, down, hammer them down,
Down to the tune of O'Donnell Abu.

II
Justify all those renowned generations;
They left their bodies to fatten the wolves,
They left their homesteads to fatten the foxes,
Fled to far countries, or sheltered themselves
In cavem, crevice, hole,
Defending Ireland's soul.
'Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman,
'They killed my goose and a cat.
Drown, drown in the water-but,
<1Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman.
Justify all those renowned generations,
Justify all that have sunk in their blood,
Justify all that have died on the scaffold,
Justify all that have fled, that have stood,
Stood or have marched the night long
Singing, singing a song.
'Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman.
'They killed my goose and a cat.
Drown, drown in the water-butt,
Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman.
Fail, and that history turns into rubbish,
All that great past to a trouble of fools;
Those that come after shall mock at O'Donnell,
Mock at the memory of both O'Neills,
Mock Emmet, mock Parnell:
All the renown that fell.
'Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman,
'They killed my goose and a cat.
Drown, drown in the water-butt,
Drown all the dogs,' said the fierce young woman.

III
The soldier takes pride in saluting his Captain,
The devotee proffers a knee to his Lord,
Some back a mare thrown from a thoroughbred,
Troy backed its Helen; Troy died and adored;
Great nations blossom above;
A slave bows down to a slave.
Who'd care to dig em,' said the old, old man,
'Those six feet marked in chalk?
Much I talk, more I walk;
Time I were buried,' said the old, old man.
When nations are empty up there at the top,
When order has weakened or faction is strong,
Time for us all to pick out a good tune,
Take to the roads and go marching along.
March, march -- How does it run? --
O any old words to a tune.
'Who'd care to dig 'em,' said the old, old man,
'Those six feet marked in chalk?
Much I talk, more I walk;
Time I were buried,' said the old, old man.
Soldiers take pride in saluting their Captain,
Where are the captains that govetn mankind?
What happens a tree that has nothing within it?
O marching wind, O a blast of the wind.
Marching, marching along.
March, march, lift up the song:
'Who'd care to dig 'em,' said the old, old man.
'Those six feet marked in chalk?
Much I talk, more I walk;
Time I were buried,' said the old, old man.

Submitted: Thursday, May 17, 2001

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