“The Finding of Moses”


"In Agypt's land, contaygious to the Nile, Old Pharo's daughter ... saw a smiling babby in a wad of straw ...'Tare-an-ages, girls, which o' yees owns the child?'"


OLochlainn: "...Zozimus, who was in life Michael Moran, born ... Dublin, about the year 1794 ... composed a notable ballad on The Finding of Moses in the Bulrushes, which begins On Egypt's plains where flows the ancient Nile, Where Ibix stalks and swims the Crockadile.... It underwent many changes ... and a number of versions are extant. A fragment of one [is presented here]."

Sparling's text, exactly as complete or incomplete as OLochlainn, is in not quite as broad a slang. Sparling also attributes it to "the celebrated blind 'Zozimus' who sang his own songs." A more complete version is Frank Harte's _Songs of Dublin_: Moses' mother is picked up, by coincidence, to be his nurse.

"Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran)" has two versions; the first "would appear to be all his own composition" and the second "appears to have been an early effort [by Moran]." In the first, which has two verses, King Pharoah's daughter "tuk it [Moses] to Pharo', who madly wild, Said, 'You foolish girl have you got with child?"; in spite of the efforts of one of the daughter's entourage to dissuade Pharoah he says he'll "search every hole and nook" for the father "and likely I'll find him at Donnybrook." The second, rescued "from the uncertainty of tradition," is much longer (26 rhymed couplets), has no statements at all by Pharoah, and ends with a moral drawn from the life of the boy "which rescued from their bondage the Israel of God": "A conquered nation, though down-trod, it still is never crushed, A Liberator always comes when Freedom's voice is hushed; And so our own dear land, in time we all shall see The Saxon rulers gone - Old Ireland shall be free!" - BS

According to Frank Harte, Moran/Zozimus went blind at the age of two weeks, forcing him into a career in entertainment. He took his stage name from an abott Zozimus who lived in Egypt. Moran died in 1846.

The story of Moses being abandoned by his parents (who had to hide him to prevent him from being killed) is told in Exodus 2:1-10. The picking of his mother, in the Bible, is no coincidence. His sister (presumably Miriam, but the girl is not named at this time) has followed the baby along the Nile, and when the time comes, offers to find a nurse for the baby. Naturally she chose Moses's own mother (Exodus 2:7-8). - RBW

Cross references


  1. OLochlainn, p. 230, "The Finding of Moses" (1 fragment)
  2. ADDITIONAL: Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis [Joseph Tully?], Memoir of the Great Original Zozimus (Michael Moran) (Dublin,1976 (reprint of the 1871 edition)), pp. 20-22, "The Finding of Moses" or "Finding of Moses in the Nile"
  3. H. Halliday Sparling, Irish Minstrelsy (London, 1888), pp. 514, in a note to "Night Before Larry Was Stretched"
  4. ADDITIONAL: Frank Harte _Songs of Dublin_, second edition, Ossian, 1993, pp. 26-27, "The Finding of Moses" (1 text, 1 tune)
  5. BI, OLOc230


Author: probably Michael J. Moran (Zozimus)
Earliest date: 1871 (Gulielmus Dubliniensis Humoriensis)
Keywords: Bible humorous baby
Found in: Ireland