The Wind That Shakes The Barley sung by Lisa Gerrard (post by Nasty Nigel)

Well it is St Patrick’s Day in Melbourne and the recent hot spell has thankfully subsided for now and the weather is appropriately drizzly and reflective. There are dozens of Irish songs I love but this is one of my favourites. I haven’t seen the Ken Loach film that shares the title. Have you?
Here is the link to the song “http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1p2g2WuGXwE”
The not always reliable Wikipedia says this about the song:

“”The Wind That Shakes the Barley” is an Irish ballad written by Robert Dwyer Joyce (1836–1883), a Limerick-born poet and professor of English literature. The song is written from the perspective of a doomed young Wexford rebel who is about to sacrifice his relationship with his loved one and plunge into the cauldron of violence associated with the 1798 rebellion in Ireland.[1] The references tobarley in the song derive from the fact that the rebels often carried barley or oats in their pockets as provisions for when on the march. This gave rise to the post-rebellion phenomenon of barley growing and marking the “croppy-holes,” mass unmarked graves into which slain rebels were thrown, symbolizing the regenerative nature of Irish resistance to British rule.[2]

And it is kind of nice to know that the song is performed by a former Melbournian…Wiki (short for Wikipedia -not inferring any link to pagan witchery) provides some biographical detail
“Lisa Gerrard was born on 12 April 1961 in Melbourne and grew up in the suburb of Prahranwith her Irish immigrant parents. Speaking about her upbringing she has said that she grew up with “Mediterranean music blaring out of the houses” and that this influenced her music, particularly on later Dead Can Dance albums and in her solo and collaborative works.[1]

I think we can all agree the lyrics to this song are incredibly powerful and moving

I sat within a valley green
I sat me with my true love
My sad heart strove to choose between
The old love and the new love
The old for her, the new that made
Me think on Ireland dearly
While soft the wind blew down the glen
And shook the golden barley
Twas hard the woeful words to frame
To break the ties that bound us
But harder still to bear the weight
Of foreign chains around us
And so I said, “The mountain glen
I’ll seek at morning early
And join the brave United Men
While soft winds shake the barley”
While sad I kissed away her tears
My fond arms ’round her flinging
The foeman’s shot burst on our ears
From out the wildwood ringing
A bullet pierced my true love’s side
In life’s young spring so early
And on my breast in blood she died
While soft winds shook the barley
I bore her to some mountain stream
And many’s the summer blossom
I placed with branches soft and green
About her gore-stained bosom
I wept and kissed her clay-cold corpse
Then rushed o’er vale and valley
My vengeance on the foe to wreak
While soft winds shook the barley
But blood for blood without remorse
I’ve taken at Oulart Hollow
And laid my true love’s clay-cold corpse
Where I full soon may follow
As ’round her grave I wander drear
Noon, night and morning early
With breaking heart when e’er I hear
The wind that shakes the barley


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About Mari McNifique

Astrologer, counsellor, kinesiologist and social worker View all posts by Mari McNifique

3 responses to “The Wind That Shakes The Barley sung by Lisa Gerrard (post by Nasty Nigel)

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