An Analysis of the Use of Musical Allusions in James Joyce’s Dubliners

By Lindsey Warren

[Song Lyrics]

In his work, Dubliners, James Joyce seems to have utilized not only his talents as an author, but also his expertise as a musician. Joyce, having an extensive musical background, was able to skillfully infuse his broad knowledge of music into his portrait of Irish society. Joyce uses music for purposes of symbolism, characterization, including the suggestion that characters “mature” over the course of several stories, and to expound upon the themes, motifs, and tones expressed in the work as a whole.
Joyce uses musical allusions in many stories for purposes of characterization. In “The Boarding House,” Joyce’s allusion to a song in the musical “A Greek Slave” blatantly characterizes Polly Mooney as a “little perverse madonna” (60). Many of the lyrics in the song, “I’m a Naughty Girl,” parallel Polly’s mannerisms and the events in the story (to be discussed in full later in this analysis). The first lyric that Joyce samples, “I’m a naughty girl,” obviously points to Polly’s “liveliness” in having “the run of the young men,” and her seduction of Doran (59, 60).
Just as in “The Boarding House,” characterization through musical allusions is evident in the story “Eveline.” Joyce characterizes Eveline through his mention of the song “The Lass that Loves a Sailor.” The title of the song evokes the image of a sailor, viewed stereotypically as a philanderer, which explicates Eveline’s lack of self-respect. Joyce further elucidates this stereotype in Eveline’s father, Mr. Hill’s, line, “I know these sailor chaps” (34). In addition, the title mentions love only on the part of the “lass,” illustrating Eveline’s self-deprecating views. The heroine’s lack of self-worth is developed in the story when it becomes unbelievable to her that “she, Eveline” would be married (32). Joyce’s use of repetition in the abovementioned phrase further typifies Eveline as a “paralyzed” Dubliner who lacks self-confidence.
Joyce makes use of an appropriate allusion in “Clay,” as well, to characterize Maria as a lonely spinster. This is achieved through the allusion to the aria “I Dreamt that I Dwelt,” from Balfe’s The Bohemian Girl. Coincidentally, Joyce mentions The Bohemian Girl in “Eveline,” which Columbia University’s Phyllis Tilton Hurt believes suggests “a link between the two self-abnegating heroines” (Columbia “I Dreamt” Lyrics). This perhaps even implies that Eveline, in terms of the organization of the entire work, will develop into and “become” Maria later in life. Joyce samples several lines from “I Dreamt that I Dwelt” to appeal to Maria’s lack of affection and timid nature. Evoking pathos, Joyce writes that Maria sings the first verse twice and seemingly by accident. However, due to the content of the second verse, which speaks of what critic John S. Kelly calls “a dream of fulfilled and reciprocal love” (Kelly 264), the reader is forced to question whether “her mistake” was, in fact, purposeful (106). The lyrics of the second verse, “I dreamt that suitors sought my hand,” and references to “knights upon bended knee” and “maidens” reveal a chivalrous image of love that bears resemblance to Joyce’s description of the “colonel-looking gentleman” on the train (102).
In addition to the unmentioned second verse of the aria, the unstated length of the refrain, “But I also dreamt, which pleased me most, that you loved me still the same,” again plays to Maria as a spinster. The phrase, “that you loved me,” is repeated five times, three out of the five with the word “love” encompassing several notes. Moreover, the chorus contains much higher notes and more embellishments than the first verse, which deals with personal wealth. The incongruity is drastic, as the only embellishments contained in the first verse are few small grace notes. Emblematically, the extreme differences in embellishments and the voice’s range between the two verses could symbolize the beauty and sanctity of love as opposed to the baseness of material gain. Similarly, the line “which pleased/charmed me most” additionally serves to emphasize the importance of love. The symbolism here fits because, though Maria is concerned with material goods, indicated by her “vexation” at losing “the two and fourpence she had thrown away for nothing” when she mistakenly loses the plumcake, Joyce is consistently elucidating her identity as a spinster (103). Joyce identifies Maria’s lack of love and marriage as the central focus of her character; consider, for example, her ironic home (the “Dublin by Lamplight” laundry, an institution for fallen women), where “Lizzie Fleming” teases every year that “Maria was sure to get the ring,” or her encounter with the “stylish young lady” at the cake shop, who “asked her was it a wedding-cake she wanted to buy” (100, 101). The aforementioned lines, additionally, serve to characterize Maria as meek.
Continuing with the idea of Maria’s timorousness, “I Dreamt that I Dwelt” appeals to Maria as a character who is accorded no respect. Joyce expresses this aspect of Maria’s character with the lyric, “And of all who assembled within those walls, that I was the hope and the pride.” This line, along with the mention of “vassals and serfs” at one’s “side,” portrays a dream of being admired and having authority. Joyce establishes Maria as a character that demands neither respect nor admiration through her encounter at the party with the “two big girls in from next door,” whom Mrs. Donnelly scolds because their trick “was no play” (102, 105). Joyce uses the image of Maria singing in “a tiny quavering voice” and “blushing very much” to further elucidate her diffident meekness (105). Because Maria is such a subservient character, it is entirely appropriate that Joyce has her sing this aria, which embodies the strong person that she “dreams” she could be.
Similarly, Joyce uses music ironically to characterize Aunt Julia, from “The Dead,” as a spinster comparable to Maria. The similarities in the songs that the two women sing, and the parallels found in both works in general (such as the presence of holiday parties), suggests a third phase in the maturation of Eveline into Maria, and could indicate that the spinster Maria may well mature (in terms of character) into Aunt Julia. Aunt Julia’s song, “Arrayed for the Bridal,” a coloratura soprano aria, is ironic in that she is unmarried and, as Columbia’s Hurt suggests, “her only bridegroom is death” (Columbia “Arrayed” Lyrics). Joyce elucidates Julia’s identity as a spinster ironically throughout the story (again, like Maria, Julia’s lack of husband is the central focus of her characterization), such as through a description of the Misses Morkan’s house and the ironic “picture of the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet” (195). Hurt also notes irony in Aunt Julia’s “haggard” look, especially when juxtaposed with the lyrics of the song, which describe an attractive bride with “a forehead so fair” and “beautiful hair” (Columbia “Arrayed” Lyrics). In addition, this “haggard” look expresses the story’s theme of mortality (235). The song includes many embellishments, which, like in “Clay”, may suggest beauty, especially when found on the words “bridal” and beauty” in the first lyric. The upbeat tempo of the song and the fast-paced runs express irony as well; Joyce juxtaposes Julia’s “strong and clear” voice that “attacked with great spirit the runs which embellish the air,” with the image of a woman with “grey” hair and an aforesaid “haggard” look (202, 187, 235).
Joyce makes additional use of characterization through music in the story “After the Race,” in which the nouveau riche protagonist, Jimmy, searches for acceptance. The scene in which Jimmy and his “Continental” friends sing “Cadet Roussel in chorus” (39, 42) utilizes an allusion to a French nursery rhyme. Joyce’s choice of a French song expounds upon the theme of Irish inadequacy, to be further discussed later in this investigation, and upon French superiority, epitomized through the “virtual” results of the race and personified through the “refined tastes” of the character Ségouin (37, 41). In addition, the lyrics of the song, particularly the line that Joyce partially quotes, “Ah! Ah! Ah! but truly, Cadet Roussel is a good child!” characterize Jimmy as infantile, as does Joyce’s choice to utilize a nursery rhyme. Joyce characterizes Jimmy as childlike through his name, as he is the only character not referred to by his surname, and also through his apparent dependence upon the other characters when “the other men had to calculate his I.O.U.’s for him” (43). Interestingly, Jimmy’s dependence makes him comparable, in this respect, to Lenehan in “Two Gallants,” (who has yet to be discussed). Moreover, many of the other lines in the first verse of the rhyme elucidate Jimmy’s position in the Nouveau Riche, as opposed to the other men’s “old wealth.” The lyric, “Cadet Roussel has three houses, which have neither beams nor rafters,” again portrays Jimmy as only superficially wealthy. When examining Jimmy’s character, it is interesting to note that he bears resemblance to Little Chandler in “A Little Cloud.” Both men wish to shed their Irish identities, and Joyce characterizes both as infantile. Joyce’s descriptions of Chandler utilize fragile diction, such as “white,” “delicate,” and “small” (67); moreover, Gallaher frequently refers to Little Chandler as “Tommy,” elucidating another uncanny likeness between the two protagonists. The seemingly inadvertent similarities between the two characters and their respective positions in the book suggest that, reminiscent of Eveline and Maria, Jimmy could evolve or mature into the character of Chandler.
Characterization is strongly evident in the story “Two Gallants,” when the two men pass a harpist “playing in the bass the melody of Silent, O Moyle, while the other hand careered in the treble after each group of notes” (50). Much like Jimmy, Joyce characterizes Lenehan as dependent upon his friend Corley, as he must always “search his companion’s face for reassurance” and be careful not to “ruffle his friend’s temper” (50). However, Joyce indicates that, in Corley’s absence, “the air which the harpist had played began to control [Lenehan’s] movements,” elucidating that Lenehan’s lack of self-confidence forces him to seek someone to whom he can be a “disciple” (53, 57).
In terms of musicality, the melody and minor chord progressions of “Silent, O Moyle” have a distinctly medieval tone. The sound of the music evokes images of knights and the practice of chivalry, the latter being an ironic juxtaposition to Lenehan and Corley’s objectification of women. The idea of chivalry expressed in the music is also relevant when one considers the title of the story, “Two Gallants.” The title, like the medieval tone of the piece of music, is a blatant mockery of the men’s behavior.
Additionally, “Silent, O Moyle” serves to connect “Two Gallants” with one of the stories preceding it, “Eveline.” The melody of “Silent, O Moyle” is actually that of an old Irish air called “Arragh, My Dear Eveleen,” in which the name in the title bears resemblance to Eveline’s. In terms of theme, the two stories are linked through the abuse of women: Mr. Hill’s abuse of Eveline, and Corley’s exploitation of his women through his taking of their money and gifts (49).
Interestingly, critic Robert Adams Day notes a similarity between the harpist’s control of Lenehan in “Two Gallants,” and Mangan’s sister’s control of the protagonist in “Araby,” in that Joyce also uses a harp metaphorically in both stories (Bloom, 14). He states in “Araby,” “ [the protagonist’s] body was like a harp and her words and gestures were like fingers running upon the wires” (25). Knowing this similarity, it can be inferred that (like “Eveline” and “Clay,” and “After the Race” and “A Little Cloud”) the order of the stories indicates a growing process and that the disillusionment with love the boy in “Araby” experiences may lead him to Lenehan’s tawdry life of “gallantry” and to the cynical belief that love is “a mug’s game” (49). “Araby,” to be further discussed, contains a musical reference to “singing a come-all-you about O’Donovan Rossa” (25), that expounds upon the theme of Irish inadequacy, as Rossa was a leader of the nationalist movement (Searc’s Web Guide). In the same line, Joyce refers to singers performing a “ballad about the troubles in our native land,” which elucidates yet again the theme of Irish inadequacy (25). This line, moreover, evokes the image of the divided Ireland portrayed in “Silent, O Moyle” (to be discussed further), indicating another parallel between “Two Gallants” and “Araby.” Joyce describes the singing as “nasal chanting” and “noises,” and the singers as a “throng of foes” (25). Such negative diction gives the songs, and subsequently the Irish nationalist movement, a negative connotation.
The theme of Irish inadequacy is again expressed through symbolism in musical allusions. The reference to the Thomas Moore melody, “Silent, O Moyle,” elucidates the premise of Irish inadequacy, a theme running through the entire work. Joyce personifies the harp, a national symbol of Ireland, as a naked woman, which Day believes portrays “conquered Ireland as a disgraced and ruined maiden” (Bloom, 14). This image is echoed in the song through Moore’s personification of Ireland with a woman’s name: “Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping.” The lyrics of the song itself explain the myth of King Lir’s daughter, Fionnuala, who was transformed into a swan and could not become human again until Ireland was united (Nelson). This reference to Ireland as a disjointed nation expounds upon the theme of Irish inadequacy and is indicative of Joyce’s disapproval of his country.
Joyce’s criticism of Ireland is further expressed through music in the story “A Mother,” when the soprano, Madam Glynn, gives a “bodiless, gasping” performance of “Killarney” (151). The song itself extols the beauty of Ireland’s “em’rald isles and winding bays, mountain paths and woodland dells.” However, Joyce undercuts the song’s praise of Ireland with the soprano’s unimpressive performance. The allusion to the song is ironic in that the image of the soprano’s unimposing performance is juxtaposed with the musical imagery featured in the third verse. The image projected by lyrics like, “many-voiced the chorus swells until it fades in ecstasy,” is entirely desecrated by the performer’s “high, wailing notes” and the audience members who “made fun” of her (151). On a symbolic level, the soprano’s performance can be interpreted as a criticism of Irish society. Joyce writes that Madam Glynn uses “old-fashioned mannerisms of intonation and pronunciation which she believed lent elegance to her singing,” which could be a reflection on certain institutions in Irish society that Joyce felt were archaic, such as the moribund Roman Catholic Church (151). Evidence that Joyce is, indeed, directing his criticism at the Church is seen in the religious overtones of the song’s lyrics, which include references to “Eden,” “angels,” “Heaven,” and religious diction, including words like “divine.” On the other hand, continuing with this symbolism, Joyce then writes that “Kathleen played a selection of Irish airs which was generously applauded” and that another woman performed “a stirring patriotic recitation” (151). These positive references to Irish culture and national pride could indicate that Joyce approved of Irish art and nationalism; perhaps he only sought to criticize societal institutions and politics (a motif which recurs in several stories, among them, “Ivy Day in the Committee Room” and “The Sisters”).
Symbolism appears a final time in “The Dead,” through the allusion to the song ”Let Me Like a Soldier Fall” (209). The title of the song indicates the story’s theme of mortality, and the lyrics serve as an ironic contrast to the meek protagonist Gabriel. The diction in the song, which includes the words “brave,” “manly,” “chivalry,” and the refrain, “I like a soldier fell,” contrast the song’s character with the nervous Gabriel, who is always “patting his tie reassuringly” and “glancing right and left nervously” (189, 198). Joyce seems to personify the man described by the song through the character of Michael Furey, who chivalrously “died” for Gretta (232). The allusion to the song serves to elucidate Gabriel’s jealousy of the man who “like a soldier fell” and, furthermore, to ironically typify Gabriel as a timorous character.
As well as symbolism and characterization, many images, actions, and motifs running through the stories appear in the lyrics of the songs. In “Two Gallants,” Lenehan’s act of watching “the large faint moon,” while “Corley occasionally turned to smile at some of the passing girls,” can be compared to references to the moon in “Silent, O Moyle” (48). While this action also serves to characterize Lenehan as, inwardly, somewhat less superficial and “gallant” than Corley, it can be compared to references to “the night-star” in the song. In addition, the tone of anticipation at the end of the second verse, expressed through the repetition of the word “when,” evokes the image of Lenehan, waiting for Corley’s return.
Similarly, in “The Boarding House,” the lyrics to the “naughty girl” song bear resemblance to the plot of the story and the motifs expressed therein. Returning to the theme of manipulation by Polly and her mother, the lyrics, “On my mistress tricks I play, telling her what love should say, whispering what love should do,” parallel Mrs. Mooney’s silent guidance of Polly and her attempts to “get her daughter off her hands” (62). Another lyric, “Sometimes when I’ve had the fun, I repent of what I’ve done, but not for long!” not only characterizes Polly as “naughty,” but also brings to mind the scene when “Polly sat for a little time on the side of the bed, crying” (66). However, like the song lyric, Polly ends her repentance “a little time” after, and soon “there was no longer any perturbation visible on her face” (66).
Just as in “The Boarding House,” many of the unmentioned lyrics in “The Lass that Loves a Sailor” parallel the plotline of the story “Eveline.” The song features nautical and weather imagery, such as the line, “the moon on the ocean was dimmed by a ripple,” and the mention of “the wind that blows” and “the ship that goes.” These ocean images bear resemblance to Joyce’s use of a nautical metaphor in the final scene of “Eveline,” in which Eveline’s “cries of anguish” are compared to a storm and her imminent “drowning” (36). The lyric, “the wind that blows,” evokes Joyce’s line, “All the seas of the world tumbled about her heart,” in that both phrases utilize storm imagery (36). In “Eveline,” Joyce uses this weather metaphor to create a tempestuous tone and to convey the turbulence of Eveline’s feelings. Similarly, the lyric, “the ship that goes,” is comparable to Frank’s “rushing beyond the barrier” and Eveline’s sudden refusal to follow (36).
Joyce uses a similar technique in the title for his final story, “The Dead.” Though Joyce does not explicitly mention this Thomas Moore song, “O, Ye Dead,” many critics, including Columbia University’s David Michael Davis, cite Joyce’s knowledge of, and fascination with, the song in determining its relevance (Columbia, “Dead” Lyrics). Davis, furthermore, believes that a theme expressed in the story, “the notion that the living and the dead envy each other,” and also the theme of mortality, is a strong premise in the lyrics (Columbia, “Dead” Lyrics). The song features a cold, frightening tone and much of the diction in the lyrics is relevant to the story, as the repeated use of the word “cold” evokes the story’s final image, when the “snow” falls “faintly” outside Gabriel’s window (236). Similarly, the allusion to “freezing ‘mid Hecla’s snow” bears resemblance to the same scene.
“The Dead” contains another reference to a song that is relevant to the plot of the story. “The Lass of Aughrim,” which Gretta hears the tenor D’Arcy hoarsely singing, reminds her of Michael Furey, who “used to sing that song” (231). Columbia’s Julianne Macarus notes, “D’Arcy’s hoarseness is another emblem of mortality,” a theme present in the story (Columbia, “Aughrim” Lyrics). The image featured in the refrain, that of the “lass” standing in the rain outside “Lord Gregory’s” window, is strikingly similar to the image of Michael Furey, standing outside Gretta’s window in the rain (233). Specifically, the line that Joyce cites, “O, the rain falls on my heavy locks, and the dew it wets my skin,” further describes the two scenes.
The final musical allusion in “The Dead” consists of references to several operas over the dinner table. The two operas mentioned, “Mignon” and “Lucrezia Borgia,” are relevant in that they foreshadow Gabriel’s jealousy of Michael Furey (209). The plot of “Mignon,” for which one of Mary Jane’s “pupils had given her a pass” (209), centers around unrequited love between the title character, her love interest Wilhelm Meister, and Wilhelm’s love interest, Philine (Naxos). The unrequited love expressed in the opera foreshadows Gabriel’s sense, at the end of the story, that Gretta “had been comparing him to another” and that she “had locked in her heart for so many years that image of her lover’s eyes” (231, 235). Similarly, the plotline of “Lucrezia Borgia” articulates the jealousy that the title character’s husband holds (due to the incorrect presumption that his wife is having an affair) toward a man later revealed to be Lucrezia’s son (Artsworld). Again, this reference to infidelity recalls Gabriel’s line, “perhaps that was why you wanted to go to Galway with that Ivors girl,” and reminds him of “how poor a part he, her husband, had played in her life,” despite the fact that it is unclear whether or not Gretta actually had those sentiments (231, 234).
Just as the many musical references in “The Dead” contain relevant imagery and themes, the title of “Araby,” discussed briefly, may be an allusion to a musical piece. “I’ll Sing Thee Songs of Araby,” the song from which Joyce may have taken his title, not only expresses what Columbia’s Davis calls “the escapism and lush eroticism of the boy’s fantasies,” but also contains lyrics that recall details from the story (Columbia, “Araby” Lyrics). Evidence is found that Joyce was familiar with the song in that he utilized a direct allusion to it in a later novel, Finnegans Wake. Perhaps the ending of “Araby,” when the protagonist experiences his epiphany and realizes “his stay is useless,” is foreshadowed through the song lyrics, “my raptur’d soul shall sink, and as the diver dives for pearls, bring tears, bright tears to their brink” (30). The lyrics contain the same “hopeless” tone as Joyce’s narrative, achieved through the diction of “sink” and the lyricist’s repetition of the word “tears.” In terms of imagery, the song contains a description of “fair Cashmere,” which recalls Joyce’s image of the “great jars that stood like Eastern guards” that the boy sees at the bazaar (29). Many critics, including Hugh Kenner, believe that the “jars,” as well as the great empty hall that holds the bazaar, are symbolically representative of female sexuality (Garret, 43). The reference to the “diver” and his search for “pearls” calls to mind the boy’s chivalrous vision of love (and his trip to the Araby bazaar) as a “quest,” indicated by Joyce through his use of religious diction in the line, “I imagined I bore my chalice safely through a throng of foes” (25). Likewise, the mention of “pearls” also evokes the image of Mangan’s sister “turning a silver bracelet round and round her wrist” (26). A final lyric that holds relevance to the story is “to cheat thee of a sigh or charm thee to a tear,” which uncannily resembles the boy’s final emotion: that of “derision” and the sensation that his “eyes burned with anguish and anger” (30).
Joyce’s use of musical references in his stories creates depth and meaning on many levels, and contributes to the work as a whole by expressing themes, developing characters, and expounding upon motifs and tone. Joyce is also able to incorporate the lyricist’s themes, melodies, and images into his own work, thereby binding the music and stories together. Joyce’s adept and subtle use of allusions not only expresses his skill and knowledge as a musician, but also his proficiency and creativity as one of history’s foremost authors.


“Silent, O Moyle”

Silent, O Moyle be the roar of thy water,
Break not, ye breezes, your chain of repose;
While murmuring mournfully, Lir’s lonely daughter
Tells to the night star her tale of woes.
When shall the swan, her death-note singing,
Sleep with wings in darkness furl’d?
When shall heav’n its sweet bell ringing,
Call my spirit from this stormy world?

Sadly, Oh Moyle, to thy winter-wave weeping,
Fate bids me languish long ages away;
Yet still in her darkness doth Erin lie sleeping,
Still doth the pure light its dawning delay!
When will that day-star, mildly springing,
Warm our Isle with peace and love?
When shall heav’n, its sweet bell ringing,
Call my spirit to the fields above?

Lyrics by Thomas Moore
Nelson, Lesley. (n.d.). Folk Music.

“Arrayed for the Bridal”

Arrayed for the bridal, in beauty behold her
A white wreath entwineth a forehead more fair;
I envy the zephyrs that softly enfold her,
And play with the locks of her beautiful hair.
May life to her prove full of sunshine and love.
Who would not love her?
Sweet star of the morning, shining so bright
Earth’s circle adorning, fair creature of light!

Composed by Bellini; lyrics by George Linley

“The Lass of Aughrim”

If you be the lass of Aughrim
As I am taking you mean to be
Tell me the first token
That passed between you and me.
The rain falls on my yellow locks
And the dew it wets my skin;
My babe lies cold within my arms:
Lord Gregory let me in.
Oh Gregory, don’t you remember
One night on the hill,
When we swapped rings off each other’s hands,
Sorely against my will?
Mine was of the beaten gold,
Yours was but black tin;
Oh if you be the lass of Aughrim,
As I suppose you not to be
Come tell me the last token
That passed between you and me.
Oh Gregory don’t you remember
One night on the hill
When we swapped smocks off each other’s backs,
Sorely against my will?
Mine was of the Holland fine,
Yours was but scotch cloth.

“I Dreamt that I Dwelt”

I dreamt that I dwelt in marble halls,
With vassals and serfs at my side,
And of all who assembled within those walls,
That I was the hope and the pride.
I had riches too great to count
Could boast of a high ancestral name;
But I also dreamt, which pleased me most,
That you loved me still the same;
That you loved me, you loved me still the same,
That you loved me, you loved me still the same.

I dreamt that suitors sought my hand;
That knights upon bended knee,
And with vows no maiden heart could withstand
They pledged their faith to me;
I dreamt that one of the noble host
Came forth my hand to claim.
But I also dreamt, which charmed me most,
That you loved me still the same;
That you loved me, you loved me still the same,
That you loved me, you loved me still the same.

Composed by M.W. Balfe
Nelson, Lesley. (n.d.). Folk Music.

“Cadet Roussel”

Cadet Roussel a trois maisons,
Qui n’ont ni pouters ni chevrons.
C’est pour loger les hirondelles.
Que direz-vous d’Cadet Roussel?
Ah, ah, ah, mais vraiment,
Cadet Roussel est bon enfant!

Cadet Roussel has three houses,
Which have neither beams nor rafters.
They are homes for the swallows.
What can you say of Cadet Roussel?
Ah, ah, ah, but truly,
Cadet Roussel is a good child!

“Let Me Like a Soldier Fall”

Yes! Let me like a soldier fall
Upon some open plain,
This breast expanding for the ball,
To blot out every stain.
Brave manly hearts confer my doom
That gentler ones may tell
Howe’er forgot, my unknown tomb
I like a soldier fell.
I only ask of that proud race,
Which ends its blaze in me,
To die the last, and not disgrace
Its ancient chivalry.
Tho’ o’er my clay no banner wave
Nor trumpet requiem swell,
Enough they murmur o’er my grave
He like a soldier fell

Composed by William Vincent Wallace; lyrics by Edward Fitzball


By Killarney’s lakes and fells,
Em’rald isles and winding bays;
Mountain paths and woodland dells,
Mem’ry ever fondly strays.
Bounteous nature loves all lands
Beauty wonders ev’rywhere;
Footprints leaves on many strand,
But her home is surely there!
Angels fold their wings and rest,
In that Eden of the West
Beauty’s home Killarney,
Ever fair Killarney.

No place else can charm the eye,
With such bright and varied tints,
Ev’ry rock that you pass by,
Verdure broiders or besprints.
Virgin there the green grass grows,
Ev’ry morn Spring’s natal day;
Brighthued berries daff the snows,
Smiling winter’s frown away.
Angels often pausing there,
Doubt if Eden were more fair,
Beauty’s home Killarney,
Ever fair Killarney.

Music there for Echo dwells,
Makes each sound a Harmony,
Many-voiced the chorus swells
Till it faints in ecstasy.
With the charmful tints below
Seems the Heaven above to vie,
All rich colours that we know,
Tinge the cloud-wreaths in that sky.
Wings of Angels so might shine,
Glancing back soft light divine,
Beauty’s home Killarney,
Ever fair Killarney.

Composed by M.W. Balfe


Artsworld. (n.d.). Music and Dance: Opera.

Bloom, Harold. Modern Critical Interpretations: James Joyce’s Dubliners. New York: Chelsea House Publishers, 1988.

Garret, Peter K. Twentieth Century Interpretations of Dubliners. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice Hall, Inc, 1968.

Joyce, James. Dubliners. New York: Signet Classic, 1991.

Kelly, John S. Afterword. Dubliners. By James Joyce. New York: Vintage International, 1993.

Naxos. (n.d.). Opera Synopses: Mignon.

Nelson, Lesley. (n.d.). Folk Music: Silent, O Moyle.

Searc’s Web Guide. (n.d.). Searc’s Web Guide to 19th Century Ireland – Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa.

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