Irish Poet Of Old – Zozimus

Michael Moran was born circa 1794 in Dublin. He became blind shortly after birth but grew to develop a fantastic memory for creating and reciting verse which he used to create a meagre livelihood for himself.

Moran adopted the title Zozimus as his stage-name and was known as The Blind Bard of the Liberties – the Liberties being an inner city area of Ireland’s capital. Many of his poems have political themes. others are religious based. He is not well known in Ireland let alone anywhere else. But his life is testament to the power of poetry and its accessibility to even the most marginalized in our global societies.

His strange nickname came from a poem written by Anthony Coyle, Bishop of Raphoe, which mentioned a holy man named Zosimas of Palestine. The poem was popular at the time and the entrepreneurial Michael Moran soon acquired a corrupted version of the title as his own.

Zozimus died on 3rd April, 1846. He is buried in Glasnevin cemetery, close to the O’Connell monument. One of his epitaphs reads:

My burying place is of no concern to me,
In the O’Connell circle let it be,
As to my funeral, all pomp is vain,
Illustrious people does prefer it plain.

The other can be read below;


Image result for Zozimus

Some of his surviving verse follows.

The Finding of Moses

In Agypt’s land contaygious to the Nile,

Old Pharao’s daughter went to bathe in style,

She took her dip and came unto the land,

And for her to dry her royal pelt she ran along the strand.

A bull-rush tripped her, whereupon she saw

A smiling babby in a wad of straw,

She took it up and said in accents mild,

‘Tare-an-ages, girls, which o’yees own the child?’

                                 *       *       *

The Song of Zozimus

Gather round me boys, will yez
Gather round me
And hear what I have to say,
Before ould Sally brings me
My bread and jug of tay.

I live in Faddle Alley,
Off Blackpitts near the Coombe;
With my poor wife called Sally,
In a narrow, dirty room.

Gather round me, and stop yer noise,
Gather round me till my tale is told;
Gather round me, ye girls and ye boys,
Till I tell yez stories of the days of old;

Gather round me, all ye ladies fair,
And ye gentlemen of renown;
Listen, listen, and to me repair,
Whilst I sing of beauteous Dublin town.

*      *       *

In Praise of Potheen

O long life to the man who invented potheen –
Sure the Pope ought to make him a martyr –
If myself was this moment Victoria, the Queen,
I’d drink nothing but whiskey and wather.

*       *       *

In the proud tradition of satire, Zozimus created a short verse mocking a Dublin constable who was known for harassing the local media, including a journalist named Dunphy. The policeman’s behaviour prompted the poor bard to compose and regularly recite the following;

How proud Robert Peel must be of such a chap

He stands about five feet nothing in his cap

And his name’s immortalised by me friend Mr.D

A statue must be riz to 184B

The scorn and derision that Constable 184B suffered from the popularity of this verse was enough to force him out of the police. It’s a perfect example of the Power of the Bard in those bygone days when they were feared for their capabilities with words.

– If you care, give it a share –

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