Monday, April 30, 2012

Thomas Moore

Thomas Moore (1779—1852) is an Irish poet, songwriter and performer. He is perhaps best known for his ballads, which were often set to traditional folk tunes and collected in the book Moore’s Irish Melodies (1846 and 1852). Moore was born a Catholic, but married a Protestant, and raised his children to be Protestant. He was known for his political support of Irish interests.

The following is the first verse of one of his many songs which maintain their popularity to this day.

---------Believe me, if all those endearing young charms,
---------Which I gaze on so fondly today,
---------Were to change by tomorrow and fleet in my arms,
---------Like fairy gifts fading away
---------Thou wouldst still be adored, as this moment thou art,
---------Let thy loveliness fade as it will;
---------And around the dear ruin each wish of my heart
---------Would entwine itself verdantly still.

There is a story that Moore — who was against the American slave trade — once challenged an opposing critic to a duel. When the authorities interrupted them, his opponent’s pistol was found to be empty, and some say Moore’s was too. Amused, Lord Byron wrote of the “leadless pistol” showing a lack of courage. Moore wrote an angry letter, but Byron was abroad. When the two poets eventually met, however, they quickly resolved the issue and became friends; Byron later asked Moore to be his literary executor. Moore yielded to family pressure to burn Lord Byron’s memoirs, but later edited Byron’s letters for publication.

The following is often sung as a hymn, although hymnals usually have an altered version of the third stanza, rather than the Moore original which is here.

Come Ye Disconsolate

Come, ye disconsolate, where’er ye languish,
Come to the mercy seat, fervently kneel.
Here bring your wounded hearts, here tell your anguish;
Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot heal.

Joy of the desolate, light of the straying,
Hope of the penitent, fadeless and pure!
Here speaks the Comforter, tenderly saying,
“Earth has no sorrow that heaven cannot cure.”

Go, ask the infidel, what boon he brings us,
What charm for aching hearts he can reveal,
Sweet as that heavenly promise Hope sings us—
"Earth has no sorrow that God cannot heal."

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the award-winning author of the poetry collections Poiema (Wipf & Stock) and So The Moon Would Not Be Swallowed (Rubicon Press). They are both available at: