(SONGS AND BALLADS OF IRELAND - p37)
"Come, buy my nice, fresh Ivy, and my Holly sprigs so green;
I have the finest branches that ever yet were seen.
Come, buy from me, good Christians, and let me home, I pray,
And I'll wish you 'Merry Christmas Times, and a happy New Year's Day"
"Ah! Won't you take my ivy? - the loveliest ever seen!
Ah! Won't you have my Holly boughs? - all you who love the Green!
Do! - take a little bunch of each, and on my knees I'll pray,
That God may bless your Christmas and be with you New Year's Day."
"This wind is black and bitter, and the hail-stones do not spare
My shivering form, my bleeding feet, and stiff, entangled hair;
Then, when the skies are pitiless, be merciful, I say -
So heaven will light your Christmas and the coming New Year's Day."
'Twas thus a dying maiden sung, while the cold hail rattled down,
And fierce winds whistled mournfully o'er Dublin's dreary town:--
One stiff hand clutched her Ivy sprigs and Holly boughs so fair;
With the other she kept brushing the haildrops from her hair
So grim and statue-like she seemed, 'twas evident the Death
Was lurking in her footseps - while her hot impeded breath
Too plainly told her early doom - though the burden of her lay
Was still of life and Christmas joys, and a Happy New Year's Day.
'Twas in that broad, bleak Thomas Street, I heard the wanderer sing,
I stood a moment in the mire, beyond the ragged ring-
My heart felt cold and lonely, and my thoughts were far away,
Where I was many a Chritmas-tide and Happy New Year's Day.
I dreamed of wonderings in the woods among the Holly Green;
I dreamed of my own native cot and porch with Ivy Screen:
I dreamed of lights forever dimm'd - of Hopes that can't return -
And dropped a tear on Christmas fires that never more can burn.
The ghost-like singer still sung on, but no one came to buy;
The hurrying crowd passed to and fro, but did not heed her cry;
She uttered on low, piercing moan-then cast her boughs away-
And smiling, cried-"I'll rest with God before the New Year's Day!"
On New Year's Day I said my prayers above a new-made grave,
Dug recently in sacred soi, by Liffey's murmuring wave;
The Minstrel maid from Earth to Heaven has winged her happy way,
And now enjoys, with sister saints, and endless New Year's Day.
The Holly and Ivy Girl was written by John Keegan (1809-1849), and set to O'Carolan's Lament.
It was first published in The Irishman, number 1, January 1849.