“The White Horse”, a ballad recorded by J. M. Synge in The Aran Islands (1907).

The complete version of the ballad restored from Boxfile-G, pp.185-90, by editor of 1966 OUP Edn., pp.168-71, Synge having published only 12 of 29 given here - those given in Aran Islands being marked by asterisks. ]


*My horse he is white,
Though at first he was bay,
And he took great delight
In travelling by night
And by day.

*His travels were great
If I could but half of them tell,
He was rode in the garden by Adam,
The day that he fell.

*On Babylon plains
He ran with speed for the plate,
He was hunted next day
By Hannibal the great.

*After that he was hunted
In the chase of a fox,
When Nebuchadnezzar ate grass,
In the shape of an ox.

After the time of the Flood
He was rode by many a spark
And his courage was good
When Noah took him into the Ark.

He followed Moses who rode
Him through the red sea
He then let him out and he sensibly
Galloped away.

*He was with king Pharaoh in Egypt
When fortune did smile,
And he rode him stately along
The gay banks of the Nile.

*He was with king Saul and all
His troubles went through,
He was with king David the day
That Goliath he slew.

He was with Juda and when Juda
The Maccabeus the great,
He rode on my horse
As the ancient historians relate.

He was with Cyrus, whose name
Is in History found,
He rode on my horse at the taking
Of Babylon’s town.

And the Jews remain in chains
And mercy implore
King cyruns proclaime again,
To have them restored.

He conducted them home
Straighways to Babylon’s town
Where the King was restored once more
And solemnly crowned.

The poor captive Jews this news
Received with great joy.
My horse got the news
And pursues his journey to Troy.

*When (**) came to Troy with joy,
My horse he was found,
He crossed over the walls and entered
The city I’m told.

On Africa plains my horse he conquered
That part of the gold globe,
And to try it again (he employed)
The patience of Job.

*I come on him again, in Spain,
And he in full bloom,
By Hannibal the great he was rode,
And he crossing the Alps into Rome.

*The horse being tall
And the Alps very high,
His rider did fall
And Hannibal the great lost an eye.

My horse got no ease
Althought his rider did fall
He was mounted again by Scipio
Who did him extol.

He was with Brian the Brave
When Munster men he did command,
In thirty battles he drove
The wild Danes from the land.

And to tell you the truth
And the truth I like always to tell,
He was rode by St. Ruth
That at Aughrim he fell.

But Sarsfield the briave
At the siege of Limerick’s town
He rode on my horse, and crossed
Over the Channel I’m told.

At the battle of Clontarf,
He fought on Good Friday all day
And all that remained he drove them
Into the sea.

*He was with king James who sailed
To the Irish shore,
But at last he got lame,
When the Boyne’s bloody battle was o’er.

*He was rode by the greatest of men
At famed Waterloo,
Brave Daniel O’Connell he sat
On his back it is true.

To shake off the yoke which Erin
Long patiently bore,
My horse he’s fatigued
And he means to travel no more.

When banished from Erin
My horse was losing its way,
And by all its fatigues it’s no wonder
If now he was bay.

He’s landed in Erin
In Kerry he does reside
His smith is at work for to fit him
With new shoes again.

*Brave Dan’s on his back
He’s ready once more for the field.
He never will stop till the Tories,
He’ll make them to yield.


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