“The Deserter's Lamentation”


Thinking about the past won't help so "let us be merry before we go" "Now hope all ending, And death befriending, His last ending, my cares are done ... My griefs are over -- my glass runs low"

Supplemental text

Deserter's Lamentation, The
  Complete text(s)

          *** A ***

The Deserter

From Richard Aldington, The Viking Book of Poetry of the
English-Speaking World, volume 1, pp. 604-605.

If sadly thinking
With spirits sinking,
Could more than drinking
  My cares compose,
A curse for sorrow
From sights I'd borrow,
And hope to-morrow
  Would end my woes.
But as in wailing
There's nought availing,
And Death unfailing
  Will strike the blow,
Then for that reason,
And for a season,
Let us be merry
  Before we go.
To joy a stranger,
  A way-worn ranger,
In every danger
  My course I've run;
Now hope all ending,
And Death befriending,
His last aid lending,
  My cares are done:
No more a rover,
Or hapless lover,
My griefs are over,
  My glass runs low;
Then for that reason,
And for a season,
Let us be merry
  Before we go.


John Philpot Curran was famous mostly as a defender of the rebel leaders of 1798, including Napper Tandy and Wolfe Tone (though he did not like it at all when his daughter took up with Robert Emmet). He also served in parliament.

His poetry is now mostly obscure. Except for this. _Granger's Index to Poetry_ lists four citations, under three different names ("The Deserter's Lamentation," "The Deserter," "Let Us Be Merry Before We Go"), and I observe that O Lochlainn has it under a fourth title. Clearly this particular poem was well-travelled. - RBW


  1. OLochlainn-More 87A, "The Deserter's Meditation" (1 text, 1 tune)
  2. OBoyle, p. 27, "The Deserter's Meditation" (1 fragment)
  3. ST OLcM087A (Full)
  4. BI, OLcM087A


Author: John Philpot Curran (1750-1817)
Earliest date: 1965 (OLochlainn-More)
Found in: Ireland