> Louis Killen > Songs > Song of Repentance

Song of Repentance

[ Roud - ; Ballad Index OLcM082 ; Mudcat 167816 ; Owen Rua Ó Sullivan, translated by Frank O’Connor]

Colm Ó Lochlainn: More Irish Street Ballads

Sean Doyle sang Song of Repentance on his 2004 CD The Light and the Half-Light. He noted:

One from Colm Ó Lochlainn’s More Irish Street Ballads. It is a translation by Frank O’Connor of Owen Rua Ó Sullivan’s B’fhearr Leigean Doibh.


Sean Doyle sings Song of Repentance

O what can I say of a playboy’s behaviour
Have I not courted all over the place?
Bragging and boasting and coaxing the maidens
Increasing their love with the strength of my kiss
Practising plainly my versification
Taking their thoughts from the beauties of home
In which they were led into sad situations
The Clergy declare they had best leave alone

My time was a time was a time sadly wasted
On thimble men, tipplers and fair maids a score
I have sat by a candle and rhymed myself naked
On great jeers that I made great oaths that I swore
And day in and day out all the wealth of my station
Away on master musicians I’ve thrown
And what they’ve played to me I heard with elation
Never dreaming that they too were best left alone

But alas it is true that most furious of feature
My creditors all with their warrants have come
They swear by their soul they’ll see me in prison
And now I am poor ill clad and undone
And not one of those honey mouthed girls who betrayed me
And robbed me pretending that she was my own
But now mocks me with Perth and outlandish behaviour
Which tells me that she too was best left alone

Now weakness assails me and old age draws nigh
And I’ve neither wealth nor good clothes nor red gold
I’ m awakened each morning with trembling and aching
And my songs are no more the delight of the bold
To speak to a girl would be poor consolation
And so I must leave the gay tavern alone
I admit and I swear and make protestation
Sure it’s all a damned trade that’s best left alone

Come every proud high stepping mirth making hero
Who hungers for ladies and craves for the drink
Be said by me now and go cautious and careful
In case your old age in darkness might sink
Spurn hesitation and marry a lady
Of prudence piety wit and good tone
And leave faction fighting and such recreations
For take it from me they are best left alone