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when the bowl was brought him, attempted to drink, but could not; wherefore, giving away the bowl, he observed with a smile that it would be hard if two such friends as he and the cup should part at least without kissing; and then expired." There is another story of Carolan, which has been excellently rendered into verse by Samuel Lover. Tradition says that this Irish bard, when deprived of sight, and after the lapse of twenty years, recognised his first love by the touch of her hand. The lady's name was not a euphonious one; but Bridget Cruise could have been no ordinary woman to inspire such a passion. On his return from a pilgrimage which he made to St. Patrick's Purgatory, in Lough Dearg, Carolan found several persons on shore waiting the arrival of the boat which had conveyed him to the scene of his devotion. In assisting one of these devout travellers to get on board, he chanced to take a lady's hand, and his sense of touch and feeling was so acute that he exclaimed, “By the hand of my Gossip, this is the hand of my first love, Bridget Cruise !”
Ireland has produced Gaelic poets since the time of Elizabeth; but they were bards rather in a provincial sense, and not in a national sense, like the more ancient singers. Concerning these latter, and also touching a peculiar aud interesting characteristic of the Irish people generally, Thierry says :—“The wandering poets were persecuted, banished, delivered up to tortures and death; but violence served only to irritate indomitable wills; the art of poetry and of singing had its martyrs like religion; and the remembrances, the destruction of which was desired, were increased by the feeling of how much they cost them to preserve .. The Irish love to make their country into a loving and beloved real being, they love to speak to it without pronouncing its name, and to mingle the love they bear it, an austere and perilous love, with what is sweetest and happiest among the affections of the heart. It seems as if, under the veil of these agreeable illusions, they wished to disguise to their minds the reality of the dangers to which the patriot exposes himself, and to divert themselves with graceful ideas while awaiting the hour of battle, like those Spartans who crowned themselves with flowers when on the point of perishing at Thermopylæ." Great was the influence of these bards, socially and politically. Their career, habits, and effusions would form a most entertaining subject of inquiry, but it is one into which I cannot now enter.
My principal object is concerned with the Anglo-Irish poetry of the nineteenth century, and its writers. Everyone must rejoice that there has been such a notable revival of the poetic spirit in Ireland. Mr. Cashel Hoey, writing in the Dublin Review some fifteen years ago, asked the question, "How would an Irish bard, drawing his inspiration
from the primeval Ossianic sources, and thinking in the true ecstatic spirit of the Irish Muse, speak, if he were condemned to speak, in the speech of the Saxon? This was a bold conception, and no one who is familiar with the poetry of Ireland during the last twenty years will deny that it has been in great part fulfilled.” A long roll of names distinguished in Irish song shows the spirit and success with which the problem was grappled with. Anster, Banim, Callanan, Davis, Ferguson, Griffin, Lover, Mangan, MacCarthy, Moore, Walsh, M'Gee, Duffy, and others to be mentioned at a later stage, are sufficient to show the renascence which has taken place in Irish poetry. The ballads of these writers, which, while written in the English language, are yet racy of the Irish soil, have done much towards giving the sister island a new and a national literature. It will be convenient to consider these ballads in groups, taking first those which are historical. In this wide field of effort, and there is none wider, no name is more conspicuous, or more deserving of honour, than that of James Clarence Mangan. This man of true genius was born in Dublin in 1803, and died in that city at the comparatively early age of forty-six. For many years he was obliged to work from five in the morning, summer and winter, to eleven at night, and he was wont to affirm that nothing but a special Providence could have saved him from suicide. Like some other poets, Mangan drank deeply, and ultimately became an opium-eater. His career ended like that of Poe; and he was taken from a garret in a mean street in Dublin to one of the public hospitals, where he died after a week's illness. Yet this man has left his impress upon the poetry of Ireland. He had a vigorous style, a quick fancy, and a melodious ear. His translations frequently surpassed his originals; and it was said that “ he was a Dervish among the Turks, a Bursch among the Germans, a Scald among the Danes, an Improvisatore in Italy, and a Senachie in Ireland.” His translation of “Kinkora” from the Irish is very graphic. The poem is ascribed to MacLiag, the secretary of the famous Brian Boru, who fell at the battle of Clontarf in 1014. The subject is a lamentation for the fallen condition of Kinkora, the palace of that monarch, consequent on his death. Another powerful ballad by this writer is "Rury and Darvorgilla." Rury, or Ruaghri, Prince of Oriel, after an absence of two days and two nights from his own territories on a hunting expedition, suddenly reflects that he has forgotten his wedding-day. He despairs of forgiveness from the bride, and sends his troops against her father, under the command of an aged captain. Rury's followers are slaughtered; whereupon he stabs himself to the heart. Darvorgilla witnesses this sad catastrophe from a distance, and rushing towards the scene of it, clasps her lover in her arms; but her stern father following, tears her away from the bleeding corpse,
and has her cast, in his wrath, it is supposed, into one of the dungeons of his castle. Here we have a typical incident from old Irish history, such incidents furnishing the material for the songs of the bards. A writer who has done much in this branch of poetry is the author of “ The Monks of Kilerea,” a poem inimitable in its way. Moore's ballad, “The Return of O’Ruark,” is too well known for me to quote here; but because of an unfortunate incident which occurred long ago, we cannot accept as a general statement holding good for all time the poet's epigrammatic assertion
On our side is Virtue and Erin!
Callanan is another writer who has added to the stores of Irish ballad poetry in several directions. He was born at Cork in 1795, and educated for the priesthood; but he was of a roving disposition, and could not settle down to clerical work. In 1823 he became an assistant in the school of Dr. Maginn, through whom he also became a contributor to Blackwood's Magazine. He died six years later, at the early age of thirty-four. His “Gougaune Barra,” and the “Dirge of O'Sullivan Beare,” are excellent examples of his powers. Sir Charles Gavan Duffy has written some stirring historical ballads, foremost amongst them being "The Muster of the North, 1641." It is founded on the rising of Ulster at the commencement of the ten years' war. It was objected at the time of the publication of this ballad that it excused excesses; but the author denied this. He condemned and deplored such excesses, and the object of the ballad was to give a vivid picture of the feelings of an outraged people in the first madness of successful resistance. Thomas Darcy M'Gee also added largely to this class of ballad. Whatever style of composition this writer touched he seems to have adorned, and he has unquestionably the fire of real genius in him. His poetry and his essays have alike extracted the admiration of critics by their fine qualities. But of all the poets who live in the affections of Irishmen none hold a higher place than Thomas Osborne Davis. This writer was born at Mallow, County Cork, in 1814, and died, like many other Irish poets, at an early age; in fact, he had only attained his thirty-first year at the time of his death. He was educated at Trinity College, Dublin, and was called to the Irish Bar in 1840, but subsequently took to politics. He helped to establish the Nation, and contributed to its columns many of those ballads which have since become 80 widely known. He was a man of sterling principle as well as of striking powers, and won the instant admiration of all with whom he came into contact by the unselfishness and transparency of his nature. “ His devoted love for Ireland knew no bounds ; his fidelity to her
interests has rarely been equalled ; and he served her with intense zeal, without stint or reserve, for the sole gratification of doing good to his kind. His simplicity and almost womanly tenderness of nature were beautifully blended with the severe integrity of his principles. His masculine understanding, his high enthusiasm, his marvellous energy, and unconquerable resolution, pre-eminently fitted him for the achievement of any noble or patriotic enterprise. He bore Nature's impress
. of a great man, and she had marked him as the faithful champion of his country's rights and freedom." His premature death caused a feeling of universal regret throughout Ireland, for he was deeply and widely beloved and esteemed. The genius of Davis was very plastic, and he was equally at home in a variety of poetic effort. He had great command of language and of versification. As an example of his historical ballads, we quote the “Lament for Owen Roe O'Neill.” The time of the ballad is the 10th of November, 1649, and the scene Ormond's camp, County Waterford.
The speakers are,
a veteran of Owen O'Neill's clan, and one of the horsemen just arrived with an account of his death :
“Did they dare, did they dare, to slay Owen Roe O'Neill ?”
But the weapon of the Saxon met him on his way,
Soft as woman's was your voice, O'Neill, bright was your eye-
It is but natural that the weird imagination of the Irish, and their strong feeling for the supernatural, should have led to the production of a great number of fairy and legendary ballads. Some of these are the sweetest efforts of the Irish Muse. What could be more exquisite than Lover's little poem, “The Angel's Whisper ?” which, at the risk of being familiar to some readers, I must reproduce. A beautiful superstition prevails in Ireland to the effect that when a child smiles in its sleep it is talking with the angels.
A baby was sleeping, its mother was weeping,
For her husband was far on the wild raging sea;
And she cried, “ Dermot, darling, oh! come back to me.”
Her beads while she number'd, the baby still slumber'd,
And smiled in her face as she bended her knee;
For I know that his angels are whispering with thee.
“And while they are keeping bright watch o'er thy sleeping,
Oh! pray to them softly, my baby, with me-
For I know that the angels are whispering with thee.”
And the wife wept with joy her babe's father to see,
Said, “I knew that the angels were whispering with thee.”
Ferguson's Ulster ballad, “The Fairy Thorn," is also a delightful rendering of an old tradition. There is a wild“ keen” running through Carleton's “Sir Turlough, or the Churchyard Bride,” which is in close keeping with the subject. In the churchyard of Erigle Truagh, County Monaghan, there is said to be a spirit which appears to persons whose families are there interred. After a funeral it throws its spells over the person who remains last in the graveyard. If it be a young man, the spirit takes the shape of a beautiful female, who inspires him with a charmed passion, and exacts a promise to meet in the churchyard in a month from that day; this promise is sealed by a kiss, which communicates a deadly taint to the individual who receives it. Carleton mentions the case of a man who gave the promise and the fatal kiss, and consequently looked upon himself as lost. He took a fever, died, and was buried on the day appointed for the meeting, which was exactly