William Percy French
Biography of William Percy French
William Percy French was the son of a landlord and a clergyman's daughter. He studied engineering at Trinity College, where he spent a lot of time in song writing, dramatics, banjo playing and watercolour painting. After graduation he was on the verge of emigrating to Canada, but was appointed to a post in a government drainage scheme in Cavan. He was a self-styled 'Inspector of Drains' for seven years.
In 1891, his first wife, Ettie, died in childbirth, as did his baby daughter. he toured the country on his bicycle with a box of paints, painting and performing. He developed a one-man show, where he sang the songs he composed. At fifty, French moved to London and performed on stage until his death in 1920.
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William Percy French Poems
Abdul Abulbul Amir
The sons of the Prophet are brave men and bold And quite unaccustomed to fear, But the bravest by far in the ranks of the Shah, Was Abdul Abulbul Amir.
Long, long ago in the woods of Gortnamona, I thought the birds were singing in the blackthorn tree; But oh, it was my heart that was ringing, ringing, ringing, With the joy that you were bringing, oh my love, to me
The Mountains of Mourne
Oh Mary this London's a wonderful sight With people here workin' by day and by night They don't sow potatoes, nor barley, nor wheat But there's gangs of them diggin' for gold in the street
Are Ye Right, There, Michael?
You may talk of Columbus's sailing Across the Atlantical Sea But he never tried to go railing From Ennis as far as Kilkee
Celestial Painting (Sunset at Renvyle)
When painters leave this world, we grieve For the hand that will work no more, But who can say that they rest alway On that still celestial shore?
If I should die tonight
"If I should die tonight And you should come, And stand beside me, Lying cold and dumb,
My brother Andy said, that for a soldier he would go, So great excitement came upon the house of McElroe. My father sold a bog-hole to equip him for the war. And my mother sold the cushions of her Sunday jaunting car.
To the West
The Midland Great Western is doing its best, And the circular ticket is safe in my vest; But I know that my holiday never begins
A Fairy Song
Stay, silver ray, Till the airy way we wing To the shade of the glade Where the fairies dance and sing:
If I should die tonight
"If I should die tonight
And you should come,
And stand beside me,
Lying cold and dumb,
And if while standing there,
You whispered low,
'Here's the ten pounds
You lent me years ago,'
I would arise, although they'd laid me flat,