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Dear Mum

Dear Mum, I know you’re always there
To help and guide me with all your care,
You nursed and fed me and made me strong
To face the world and all its wrong.

What can I write to you this day
For a line or two would never pay
For care and time you gave to me
Through long hard years unceasingly.

How you found strength I do not know
How you managed I’ll never know,
Struggling and striving without a break
Always there and never late.

You prayed for me and loved me more
How could I ask for anymore
And reared me up to be like you
But I haven’t a heart as kind as you.

A guide to me in times of plight
A princess like a star so bright
For life would never have been the same
If I hadn’t of learned what small things came.

So forgive me Mum just a little more
For not loving you so much before,
For life and love you gave to me
I give my thanks for eternity.

Weeping Winds

Oh! Cold March winds your cruel laments
Are hard on prisoners’ hearts,
For you bring my mother’s pleading cries
From whom I have to part.
I hear her weeping lonely sobs
Her sorrows sweep me by,
And in the dark of prison cell
A tear has warmed my eye.

Oh! Whistling winds why do you weep
When roaming free you are,
Oh! Is it that your poor heart’s broke
And scattered off afar?
Or is it that you bear the cries
Of people born unfree,
Who like your way have no control
Or sovereign destiny?

Oh! Lonely winds that walk the night
To haunt the sinner’s soul
Pray pity me a wretched lad
Who never will grow old.
Pray pity those who lie in pain
The bondsman and the slave,
And whisper sweet the breath of God
Upon my humble grave.

Oh! Cold March winds that pierce the dark
You cry in aged tones
For souls of folk you’ve brought to God
But still you bear the moans.
Oh! Weeping wind this lonely night
My mother’s heart is sore,
Oh! Lord of all breathe freedom’s breath
That she may weep no more.


The Rhythm Of Time


There’s an inner thing in every man,
Do you know this thing my friend?
It has withstood the blows of a million years,
And will do so to the end.

It was born when time did not exist,
And it grew up out of life,
It cut down evil’s strangling vines,
Like a slashing searing knife.

It lit fires when fires were not,
And burnt the mind of man,
Tempering leadened hearts to steel,
From the time that time began.

It wept by the waters of Babylon,
And when all men were a loss,
It screeched in writhing agony,
And it hung bleeding from the Cross.

It died in Rome by lion and sword,
And in defiant cruel array,
When the deathly word was ‘Spartacus’
Along the
Appian Way.
It marched with Wat the Tyler’s poor,
And frightened lord and king,
And it was emblazoned in their deathly stare,
As e’er a living thing.

It smiled in holy innocence,
Before conquistadors of old,
So meek and tame and unaware,
Of the deathly power of gold.

It burst forth through pitiful Paris streets,
And stormed the old Bastille,
And marched upon the serpent’s head,
And crushed it ‘neath its heel.

It died in blood on Buffalo Plains,
And starved by moons of rain,
Its heart was buried in
Wounded Knee,
But it will come to rise again.

It screamed aloud by Kerry lakes,
As it was knelt upon the ground,
And it died in great defiance,
As they coldly shot it down.

It is found in every light of hope,
It knows no bounds nor space
It has risen in red and black and white,
It is there in every race.

It lies in the hearts of heroes dead,
It screams in tyrants’ eyes,
It has reached the peak of mountains high,
It comes searing ‘cross the skies.

It lights the dark of this prison cell,
It thunders forth its might,
It is ‘the undauntable thought’, my friend,
That thought that says ‘I’m right!’

Back Home in Derry

In 1803 we sailed out to sea
Out from the sweet town of
Derry
For Australia bound if we didn’t all drown
And the marks of our fetters we carried.

In the rusty iron chains we sighed for our wains
As our good wives we left in sorrow.
As the mainsails unfurled our curses we hurled
On the English and thoughts of tomorrow.

Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in
Derry.
I cursed them to hell as our bow fought the swell.
Our ship danced like a moth in the firelights.
White horses rode high as the devil passed by
Taking souls to Hades by twilight.

Five weeks out to sea we were now forty-three
Our comrades we buried each morning.
In our own slime we were lost in a time.
Endless night without dawning.

Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in
Derry.
Van Dieman’s land is a hell for a man
To live out his life in slavery.
When the climate is raw and the gun makes the law.
Neither wind nor rain cares for bravery.

Twenty years have gone by and I’ve ended me bond
And comrades’ ghosts are behind me.
A rebel I came and I’ll die the same.
On the cold winds of night you will find me

Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in Derry.
Oh Oh Oh Oh I wish I was back home in
Derry.

McIllhatton


In Glenravel’s Glen there lives a man whom some would call a god
For he could cure your shakes with a bottle of his stuff would cost you thirty bob
Come winter, summer, frost all over, a jiggin’ Spring on the breeze
In the dead of night a man steps by, “McIlhatton, if you please”

CHORUS
McIlhatton you blurt we need you, cry a million shaking men
Where are your sacks of barley, will your likes be seen again?
Heres a jig to the man and a reel to the drop and a swing to the girl he loves

May your fiddle play and poitín cure your company up above
Theres a wisp of smoke to the south of the Glen and the poitín is on the air
The birds in the burrows and the rabbits in the sky and there’s drunkards everywhere
At Skerries Rock the fox is out and begod he’s chasing the hounds
And the only thing in decent shape is buried beneath the ground

CHORUS
At McIlhatton’s house the fairies are out and dancing on the hobs
The goat’s collapsed and the dog has run away and there’s salmon down the bogs
He has a million gallons of wash and the peelers are on the Glen
But they’ll never catch that hackler cos he’s not comin’ home again

CHORUS

The Lonesome Boatman


In the middle of the sleeping lake
The Lonesome boatman dwells,
Around him rise the bracken hills
The dreamy glens and dells.
The skies are red and rolling
Tinted in the twilight’s velvet hue
The ragged scarecrow peers in relief
To where the crackling crows have flown.

The lonesome boatman doesn’t move
His clothes are old and worn
Oh, lonesome boatman reveal to me why,
Why you look forlorn.
Is it life’s sorrows
Or a forgotten memory that you have found
Or do you listen to the wind
For the boatmen you’ve seen drown?

Oh, lonesome boatman, there’s a gleaming star
High above your head.
The waters glisten in the dusk
Are they tears that you have shed?
Oh, lonesome boatman, the birds are here,
The morning shadows fall.
Oh, friends, why must you be
But a dying shadow on my lonely cell wall.

Sad Song For Susan
I’m sitting at the window, I’m looking down the street
I am watching for your face, I’m listening for your feet.
Outside the wind is blowing and it’s just begun to rain,
And it’s being here without you that’s causing me such pain.
My mind’s wandering back again, to when you were here
And I wish I had you now, I wish that you were near.
I remember the winter nights when you warned me from the cold
And in the spring when we walked through green fields and skies of gold.

You’re gone, you’re gone, but you’ll live on in my memory.
In summer we played with the kids and you brought us young Jane,
But now - now it’s lonely and cold and it’s winter once again.
It’s dark now, I see, the stars are out way up in the sky,
And oh! how they remind me of the sparkle in your eye.

I’m lonely, yes, I’m lonelier than the cold wind that blows,
Are you happy, are you all right? I suppose God only knows.
And darling all the people are going to bed and the kids are crying for you
- How can I tell them you’re dead?

You’re gone, you’re gone but you’ll live on in my memory,
You’re gone, you’re gone but you’ll live on in my memory.

(Brendan McFarlane, commanding officer of IRA prisoners in the H-Blocks,
and Bobby Sands set this poem to music which is available on CD)


The Voyage


It was 1803 when we sailed out to sea
And away from the sweet town of
Derry
For Australia bound and if we didn’t drown
The mark of the fetter we’d carry.
Our ship was The Gull, fourteen days out of
Hull
And on orders to carry the croppy
Like a ghost in the night she sailed out of sight
Leaving many a wee’an unhappy.
In our rusty iron chains well we sighed for our wee’ans
And our good wives we’d left in our sorrow
And the main sails unfurled our curses we hurled
At the English and the thought of tomorrow.

At the mouth of the Foyle we bade farewell to our soil
And the sea turned as blue as the heavens.
The breeze filled our sails of a yellowish pale
And the captain lay drunk in his cabin.
The Gull cut the sea carving our destiny
And the sea spray rose white and came flying.
O’Docherty screamed, awoken out of his dreams
By a vision of bold Robert dying.
The sun burnt us cruel as they dished out the gruel
And Dan O’Connor lay dying with fever.
Sixty rebels today, bound for
Botany Bay,
God, how many would reach the receiver.

I cursed them to hell as our bows fought the swell
And we danced like a moth in the firelight.
White horses rode by as the devil passed by
Taking ten souls to Hades in the twilight.
Five weeks out to sea we were now forty-three
And the strongest wept bitter like children.
Jesus, we screeched and our God we beseeched
But all we got was a prayer from a pilgrim.
In our own smelling slime we were lost in time
Hoping God in his mercy would claim us.
But our spirits shone high like stars in the sky
We were rebels and no man would tame us.

We were all about lost, two round score was our cost
When the man on the mast shouted, “Land hoe!”
The crew gave a cheer as we cradled our fear
And the fathoms gave up and we swam low.
Van Diemen’s land a hell for a man
Who would live out his whole life in slavery,
Where the climate was raw and the gun made the law
And neither wind or the rain cared for bravery.
Twenty long years have gone and I’ve ended my bond
And my comrades’ ghosts walk behind me.
A rebel I came and I died just the same
It’s on the cold wind at night that you’ll find me.

(The singer Christy Moore adapted this poem as a song entitled
“I Wish I Was Back Home In Derry”)

 

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