MacEdward Leach and the Songs of Atlantic Canada
Give Me Three Grains of Corn
Paddy Maher NFLD 1 Tape 16A Track 1
Flatrock Audio:
Parlour song

Give me three grains of corn mother only three grains of corn
It'll keep the little life l have till the coming of the morn
I'm dying of hunger and cold mother yes dying of hunger and cold
And half the anguish of such a death my lips they never told

It grieves my heart like it was mother it was bad as forceful blood
And all the day and the livelong night l cried for the want of food.
I dream of bread in my sleep mother the sight it was heaven to me
But l woke with an eager famished thirst but you have no bread for me

How could l look to you mother oh how could l look to you
For bread to give to your starving boy when you are starving too
I read of famine in your cheeks and in your eyes so mild
And l felt it in your bony band when you laid it on your child

The queen have land and gold mother, the queen have land and gold
Whilst you are forced to an empty breast a skeleton babe to hold
A babe who is dying of want mother as I am dying now
With a ghostly look in his sinking eye and famine upon his brow

What have poor Ireland done mother what have poor Ireland done
That the world looks on those … dying one by one
The great men care not mother the great men on the high
For the suffering sons of Ireland's isle or whether they live or die

There's many a brave heart here Mother now dying of want and cold
Whilst only over the channel so many are holding gold
There's rich and great men there mother with wondrous wealth to view
And the bread they throw to their dogs tonight would give life to me and you

Draw nearer to my side mother draw nearer to my side
And hold me fondly as you held my father when he died
I cannot see you now mother my sight is almost gone
But mother dear mother before l die give me three grains of corn

(speaks) I can't sing tonight


Sources: Roud 4492

History:   This song was published in sheet music format in 1848, the year of the first Irish potato blight.

Text notes: The dying singer laments the Irish famine.

Tune notes: 6/8 metre ; abba form with a descending "a" phrase and low cadence on "b" that seem to reflect the dark text.

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