Saturday, January 30, 2021

Hy Brasil, The Land of The Blest (live)


On the ocean that hollows the rocks where ye dwell,
A shadowy land has appeared, as they tell;
Some thought it a region of sunshine and rest,
And they called it Hy-Brasil, the land of the blest;

From year unto year, on the ocean’s blue rim,
This beautiful spectre shone lovely and dim;
Golden clouds curtained the deep where it lay,
And it looked like an Eden, away, far away!

A peasant who heard of this wonderful tale,
On a breeze of the Orient loosened his sail;
From Ara, the holy, he turned to the west,
For though Ara was holy, Hy-Brasil was blest.

He heard not the voices that called from the shore,
He heard not the rising wind’s menacing roar;
Home, kindred, and safety he left on that day,
And he sped to Hy-Brasil, away, far away!

Morn’ rose on the deep, and that shadowy isle
Though the faint rim of distance reflected its smile;
Noon burned on the wave, and that shadowy shore,
Seemed lovelier and distant, and faint as before;

Lone evening came down on the wanderer’s track,
To Ara again he looked timidly back;
Far on the verge of the ocean it lay,
And the land of the blest was away, far away!

Rash dreamer, return! on ye winds of the main,
Bear him back to Ara again.
Rash fool! for a vision of fanciful bliss,
To barter thy calm life of labour and peace.

The warning of reason was spoken in vain;
He never came back to Ara again!
Morn’ rose on the deep, amidst tempest and spray,
And he died on the ocean, away, far away!

This song was written by Gerald Griffin in 1830, where he titled it O'Brazil. Gerald is most famously known for a novel he wrote called "The Collegians," which in turn inspired a play, "The Colleen Bawn," and in turn inspired the opera, "The Lily of Killarney." "The Land of the Blest" is dedicated to the people of Milltown. I came across that dedication (and a couple of verses I haven't seen anywhere else) in a beautiful biography of Gerald's written by his brother. Heres those omitted verses, it seems they were rejigged majorly for the version that went on to be sung popularly since. The verses below are a bit preachy, I wonder did Gerald make those changes to come? Or maybe he changed his original verses and these new ones never took off. The video above is the first instalment of live versions of the songs from "Hy Brasil, Songs of the Irish in Latin America."

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