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Finnegan's Wake

"Finnegan's Wake" arose perhaps in the 1850's and is one of several mock-Irish stage songs that were very popular in 19th-century American vaudeville. It is famous for being parodied in James Joyce's masterwork, Finnegans Wake, where the comic resurrection becomes symbolic of a universal cycle of life. Joyce removed the apostrophe in the title to assert an active process in which a multiplicity of "Finnegans," that is, all of us, wake, that is, arise after falling.

Finnegan's Wake

Tim Finnegan lived in Walkin Street
A gentleman Irish, mighty odd;
He'd a beautiful tongue so rich and sweet
And to rise in the world he carried a hod.
Now Tim had a sort o' the tipplin' way
With a love of the liquor poor Tim was born
And to help him on with his work each day
He'd a drop of the craythur ev'ry morn.

Whack fol the dah now dance to your partner
Welt the flure, your trotters shake;
Wasn't it the truth I told you
Lots of fun at Finnegan's wake!

One mornin' Tim was rather full
His head felt heavy which made him shake,
He fell from the ladder and broke his skull
And they carried him home his corpse to wake.
They wrapped him up in a nice clean sheet
And laid him out across the bed,
With a gallon of whiskey at his feet
And a barrel of porter at his head.

His friends assembled at the wake
And Mrs Finnegan called for lunch,
First they brought in tea and cake
Then pipes, tobacco and whiskey punch.
Biddy O'Brien began to cry
"Such a nice clean corpse, did you ever see?
"Arrah, Tim, mavourneen, why did you die?"
"Ah, hold your gab" said Paddy McGee!

Then Biddy O'Connor took up the job
"O Biddy," says she, "You're wrong, I'm sure":
Biddy gave her a belt in the gob
And left her sprawlin' on the floor.
And then a mighty war did rage
'Twas woman to woman and man to man,
Shillelagh law did all engage
And the row and the ruction soon began.

Then Mickey Maloney ducked his head
When a naggin of whiskey flew at him,
It missed, and fallin' on the bed
The liquor scattered over Tim.
Bedad he revives! See how he rises!
Timothy rising from the bed,
Says,"Whirl your whiskey around like blazes
Thanam o'n Dhoul! D'ye think I'm dead?"