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|Thomas Moore (1779-1852) set these words to the air Coulin.
In the twenty-eighth year of his reign (1543), Henry VIII passed laws regarding the dress of the Irish. The Irish were forbidden from being "shorn or shaven" above the ears, from wearing glibbes (coulins, or long locks), and having hair on their upper lip (crommeal). The song is about preferring exile to the oppression of the English law.
The original song to Coulin concerned an Irish virgin who preferred her "Coulin" (an Irish youth with long hair) to strangers (meaning the English). Those original words were lost.*
For a complete list of tunes by Thomas Moore at this site see the Contemplator's Short Biography of Thomas Moore.
Tho' the last glimpse of Erin with sorrow I see,|
Yet, wherever thou art shall seem Erin to me.
In exile thy bosom shall still be my home,
And thine eyes make my climate, wherever we roam.
To the gloom of some desert or cold rocky shore,
Where the eye of the stranger can haunt us no more,
I will fly with my Coulin and think the rough wind
Less rude than the foes we leave frowning behind.
And I'll gaze on thy gold hair as graceful it wreathes,
And hang o'er thy soft harp as wildly it breathes;
Nor dread that the cold-hearted Saxon will tear
One chord from that harp, or one lock from that hair.
*Songs of Ireland
J. L. Hatton and J. L. Molloy
See Bibliography for full information.