DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
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DTStudy: A Nation Once Again


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Stewie 21 Jan 00 - 03:06 AM
Joe Offer 26 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM
Declan 26 Sep 02 - 01:26 PM
Robby 26 Sep 02 - 03:03 PM
Jimmy C 26 Sep 02 - 03:27 PM
GUEST 26 Sep 02 - 03:32 PM
GUEST 26 Sep 02 - 03:48 PM
MartinRyan 26 Sep 02 - 04:38 PM
Big Tim 26 Sep 02 - 04:56 PM
pattyClink 27 Sep 02 - 09:58 AM
GUEST,Martin Ryan 27 Sep 02 - 11:29 AM
Malcolm Douglas 27 Sep 02 - 11:58 AM
GUEST,Ceejay 27 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM
Jimmy C 27 Sep 02 - 12:41 PM
Jim Dixon 02 Feb 09 - 02:34 PM
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Subject: Last verse for 'Nation Once Again'
From: Stewie
Date: 21 Jan 00 - 03:06 AM

The version of 'Nation Once Again' in the DT lacks Thomas Davis' final verse:

So, as I grew from boy to man
I bent me to that bidding -
My spirit of each selfish plan
And cruel passion ridding;
For, thus I hoped some day to aid -
Oh, can such hope be vain?
When my dear country shall be made
A nation once again!

A nation once again ...

Source: Patrick Galvin 'Irish Songs of Resistance' Oak Publications 1962 p43.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Joe Offer
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM

I think Stewie's added verse is a good excuse to do a DTStudy. So, from this point on, this is an edited DTStudy thread. Here are the lyrcs we have in the Digital Tradition, plus the entry from the Traditional Ballad index. Apparently, the Digital Tradition is missing songwriter attribution and the last verse. Any other corrections?
-Joe Offer-
This is an edited DTStudy thread, and all messages posted here are subject to editing and deletion.
This thread is intended to serve as a forum for corrections and annotations for the Digital Tradition song named in the title of this thread.

Search for other DTStudy threads


When boyhood's fire was in my blood
I read of ancient freemen,
For Greece and Rome who bravely stood,
Three hundred men and three men;
And then I prayed I yet might see
Our fetters rent in twain,
And Ireland. long a province, be
A Nation once again!

Cho: A nation once again,
A nation once again,
And Ireland, long a province, be
A Nation once again!

And from that time, through wildest woe,
That hope has shown a far light,
Nor could love's brightest summer glow
Outshine that solemn starlight;
It seemed to watch above my head
In forum, field and fame,
Its angel voice sang round my bed,
A Nation once again.

It whisper'd too, that freedom's ark,
And service high and holy,
Would be profaned by feeling dark
And passions vain or lowly;
For, Freedom comes from God's right hand,
And needs a godly train;
And righteous men must make our land
A nation once again!

@Irish @rebel
filename[ NTNAGN
Tune file : NTNAGN


PLEASE NOTE: Because of the volunteer nature of The Digital Tradition, it is difficult to ensure proper attribution and copyright information for every song included. Please assume that any song which lists a composer is copyrighted ©. You MUST aquire proper license before using these songs for ANY commercial purpose. If you have any additional information or corrections to the credit or copyright information included, please e-mail those additions or corrections to us (along with the song title as indexed) so that we can update the database as soon as possible. Thank You.
Here's the entry from the Traditional Ballad Index:

Nation Once Again, A

DESCRIPTION: "When boyhood's fire was in my blood, I read of ancient freemen... And then I prayed I yet might see... Ireland, long a province, be A nation once again." The youth describes the glories of freedom, and hopes it can be regained
AUTHOR: Thomas Davis
KEYWORDS: Ireland rebellion freedom
FOUND IN: Ireland
REFERENCES (2 citations):
PGalvin, pp. 42-43, "A Nation Once Again" (1 text, 1 tune)

Notes: The irony of this song is that Ireland was NEVER a nation; before the English came, it had been a land of many petty chiefs who never united. The closest it came was the period from 1782-1800, when it had a truly independent parliament under the British crown. It proceeded to shoot itself in the foot, with a government so bad that it induced the 1798 rebellion and in turn caused Britain to create a parliamentary union.
Thomas Davis (1814-1845) was an Irish poet and patriot. A member of Daniel O'Connell's National Repeal Association from 1841, he started the Nation newspaper in 1842 and was a leader of the "Young Ireland" movement that sought a more modern approach to independence.
Davis died of scarlet fever in 1845, and it never really became clear whether he supported violent revolution or agreed with O'Connell in espousing peaceful reform. - RBW
File: PGa042

Go to the Ballad Search form
Go to the Ballad Index Instructions

The Ballad Index Copyright 2002 by Robert B. Waltz and David G. Engle.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Declan
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 01:26 PM

I apologise in advance for adding to this thread, which I know is supposed to focus on the song (you can edit this out if you like). However the notes above are quite questionable in a number of respects.

Was Ireland ever a Nation before the song was written ? A very good question - may depend on your definition of a Nation - does it need to have its own state/parliament to make it a nation ?

Was Ireland any closer to being a Nation during Grattan's Parliament (1782-1800). The answer here is almost certainly not. The Parliament was far from being a national one in any event, being elected by only a small proportion of the country - Catholic emancipation was still over 30 years away and while some of the ordinary people may have had a vote there was no secrecy of the ballot and in many cases they voted in accordance with their landlords wishes - if they knew what was good for them.

The reasons behind the 1798 uprising by the United Irishmen were many, but poor government from Dublin was hardly the main issue. The notes could be interpreted to suggest that the 1798 rebels were revolting to bring down the Dublin Parliament and the the Act of Union was brought in to counter this alleged misrule. This was certainly not the case.

As for Thomas Davis, he may have died in 1845, but it was clear that the Young Ireland movement of which he was part were in favour of violent revolution and fell out with O Connell on this very topic. They actually attempted an uprising in 1848 but this was abortive. Given that this was at the height of the Famine this was hardly surprising.

My last gripe ! Earliest Date 1962 ??? Thomas Davis was dead for 117 years by then.

Hi, Declan - in the Traditional Ballad Index, the "earliest date" is the earliest transcription of the song that is covered in the Index. There may be earlier transcriptions, but they haven't been included in the Index.
-Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Robby
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 03:03 PM

I know this is picky, picky, picky. But I believe there is a typo in the second verse as printed above. Having once copied the lyrics from a book, I am sure the line should be "It seemed to watch above my head, in forum, field and fane" and not "fame", as written above. The root word of fane is the Latin "fanum", meaning a temple, which today would include a church.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Jimmy C
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 03:27 PM

One more little comment regarding the chorus - I believe that the third line of the chorus changed after each verse and the 2nd last line of the verse inserted instead. This is how we always were taught the song, whether Thomas Davis meant it that way or not I cannot be sure. So the chorus following the second verse would be

Cho: A nation once again, A nation once again, It's angel voice sang round my bed, A Nation once again!

and so on and so forth.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 03:32 PM

Fane is correct.
See lyrics at A Nation Once Again ; Nation Once Again for tabs; and the site with Poetry and Poets from Ireland, Poems Poets
and many others.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 03:48 PM

The poem was written while Davis edited the "Nation" Newspaper, 1842-1845.
See Thomas Davis

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: MartinRyan
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 04:38 PM

The chorus is a later addition. "fane" is correct. There is a fourth verse in the original - as in the Poets and Poems site listed above.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Big Tim
Date: 26 Sep 02 - 04:56 PM

Can anyone, perhaps in the Dublin region, check the "Nation" for 1843 when and where the song,Davis' version, was first published? Strangely, J.M. Hone's short biog (1934) mentions not "Nation" nor "West's Awake". Is here no modern biographical study of the man?

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: pattyClink
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 09:58 AM

Agree with Declan, the "Notes" are problematic. To me they are so 'here's my English opinion about this whole deal' as to be unworthy to be in the DT. If these "Notes" have to stay in, then let's have a full name and credential for the author.
    I thought the line at the end made it clear the notes were from the Traditional Ballad Index. I added a line to make that clear. We don't include those notes in the Digital Tradition, but they're handy in these DTStudy threads. Ususally, I find the Ballad Index to be more objective than it is in this case.
    -Joe Offer-

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: GUEST,Martin Ryan
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 11:29 AM

The notes are from the "Ballad Index" rather than the DT, of course.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Malcolm Douglas
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 11:58 AM

And American, not English; let's not jump to conclusions here. RBW is Robert B. Waltz, chief editor of the Traditional Ballad Index, which is hosted by California State University, Fresno. Matters of historical interpretation are quite the minefield where strong feelings are involved, of course. I doubt very much if it's possible to say anything at all about this subject without being accused of bias by somebody or other.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: GUEST,Ceejay
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 12:05 PM

Some of the very 'authoritative-sounding footnotes given in this thread as to Ireland being a nation just go to show how wary one must be of history as written in all ages. "Ireland' was never a political unity and still isn't. But the people of that country, 'na Gaeil' as they referred to themselves in their own literature long before the coming of Vikings, Normans or English, most definitely saw themselves as one people with one culture which in its most expansionist periods included parts of Scotland and Wales. They never fully developed as a political unity because for centuries they were left to themselves with the luxury of having no need for combined security against an invader. Many historians now consider that Brian Boru was attempting to shape such a political entity as was happening in England around the same time (10th-11th Century AD) but he ran out of time and his successors proved unequal to the task. By the 12th Century the chance had gone.

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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Jimmy C
Date: 27 Sep 02 - 12:41 PM

Big Tim, Here is a little of what I found about about Davis. Taken from " Lives of 113 Great Irishmen and Irishwomen" by Art Byrne and Sean McMahon, a Poolbeg Press Publicatiion.

Born 14 October in Mallow . Co. Cork but spent most of his life in Dublin.Died of scarlet fever 16th September 1845 and buried in Mount Jerome Cemetery in Dublin.

One night in 1840 as a final year law student he gave his address as auditor to the Historical Association of Trinity College, the audience were startled to hear an impassioned discourse on a country, the principle of whose separate existence they did not take seriously. he said in part
" Gentlemen,you have a country...I do not fear that any of you will be found among Ireland's foes... Your country will, I fear, need all your devotion...She has no foreign friends....Beyond the limit of green Erin there is none to aid her".
This was heady stuff but Thomas Davis knew that his purpose in life was to make Ireland, a land bled white, a nation once again.
One of those listening that night was John Blake Dillon who felt as Davis did. He introduced him to a Cavan man, the journalist John Gavin Duffy, together they planned a new periodical The Nation, the first number of which appeared on 15 October 1842. It's aim was to teach "NATIONHOOD" to a depressed people. Davis was a frequent contributor to the publication on a variety of subjects ( from Round Towers to Economic Resources). He was a strong advocate on the preservation od the Irish Language " to lose your native tongue and learn that of an alien is the worst badge of conquest - it is a chain on the soul".
He was tired too of the national attitude of despondency and tried to raise the spitits of the nation with stirring ballads that recalled Ireland's former glories, such as " Clare's Dragoons", "Fontenoy", "The Wests Awake" and his most famous poem " A Nation Once Again"
With the Nation, he and his friends started the process which led to Ireland's moral and national recovery. He did not live to see much of the effect of this early work, dying at the young age of 31. The Young Ireland that he helped to create had to face the terrible famine of the mid 1840's and many later setbacks, but the seeds of nationhood which he set were well tended to and survived triumphantly.


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Subject: RE: DTStudy: A Nation Once Again
From: Jim Dixon
Date: 02 Feb 09 - 02:34 PM

A NATION ONCE AGAIN, by Thomas Davis, can be seen (by some of us anyway), complete with sheet music and a piano arrangement, in The Spirit of the Nation: Ballads and Songs by the Writers of "The Nation" (Dublin: James Duffy, 1845).

However the tune given there doesn't seem like the tune I'm familiar with. (My sight-reading skills are very shaky, though.)

It also has this footnote, which may clarify the reference to "Three hundred men and three men":
    The Three Hundred Greeks who died at Thermopylae (7 Herodotus 202), and the Three Romans who kept the Sublician Bridge (2 Livii 10.)
See Battle of Thermopylae and Horatius Cocles in Wikipedia.

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