“I found in Innisfail the fair,
In Ireland, while in exile there,
Women of worth, both grave and gay men,
Many clerics and many laymen.
I travelled its fruitful provinces round
And in every one of the five I found,
Alike in church and in palace hall,
Abundant apparel, and food for all.
Gold and silver I found, and money,
Plenty of wheat and plenty of honey;
I found God’s people rich in pity,
Found many a feast and many a city.
I also found in Armagh, the splendid,
Meekness, wisdom, and prudence blended,
Fasting, as Christ hath recommended,
And noble councillors untranscended.
I found in each great church moreo'er,
Whether on island or on shore
Piety, learning, fond affection,
Holy welcome and kind protection.
I found thy good lay monks and brothers
Ever beseeching help for others,
And in their keeping the holy word
Pure as it came from Jesus the Lord.
I found in Munster unfettered of any,
Kings and queens and poets a many—
Poets were skilled in music and measure,
Prosperous doings, mirth and pleasure.
I found in Connaught the just, redundance
Of riches, milk in lavish abundance,
Hospitality, vigour, fame,
In Cruachan’s land of heroic name.
I found in the county of Connall the glorious
Bravest heroes, ever victorious;
Fair-complexioned men and warlike,
Ireland’s lights, the high, the starlike.
I found in Ulster, from hill to glen,
Hardy warriors, resolute men;
Beauty that bloomed when youth was gone,
And strength transmitted from sire to son.
I found in the noble district of Boyle
(MS. here illegible.)
Brehons, erenachs, weapons bright,
And horsemen bold and sudden in fight.
I found in Leinster the smooth and sleek,
From Dublin to Slewmargy’s peak;
Flourishing pastures, valour, health,
Long-living worthies, commerce, wealth.
I found, besides, from Ara to Glea,
In the broad rich country of Ossorie,
Sweet fruits, good laws for all and each,
Great chess players, men of truthful speech.
I found in Meath’s fair principality,
Virtue, vigour, and hospitality;
Candour, joyfulness, bravery, purity,
Ireland’s bulwark and security.
I found strict morals in age and youth,
I found historians recording truth;
The things I sing of in verse unsmooth,
I found them all—I have written sooth.”
“James Clarence Mangan” by James Joyce
Poetry, even when apparently most fantastic, is always a revolt against artifice, a revolt, in a sense, against actuality. It speaks of what seems fantastic and unreal to those who have lost the simple intuitions which are the test of reality; and, as it is often found at war with its age, so it makes no account of history, which is fabled by the daughters of memory, but sets store by every time less than the pulsation of an artery, the time in which its intuitions start forth, holding it equal in its period and value to six thousand years.
No doubt they are only men of letters who insist on the succession of ages, and history or the denial of reality, for they are two names for one thing, may be said to be that which deceives the whole world. In this, as in much else, Mangan is the type of his race. History encloses him so straitly that even his fiery moments do not set him free from it.
He, too, cries out, in his life and in his mournful verses, against the injustice of despoilers, but never laments a deeper loss than the loss of plaids and ornaments. He inherits the latest and worst part of a legend upon which the line has never been drawn out and which divides against itself as it moves down the cycles.
And because this tradition is so much with him he has accepted it with all its griefs and failures, and has not known how to change it, as the strong spirit knows, and so would bequeath it: the poet who hurls his anger against tyrants would establish upon the future an intimate and far more cruel tyranny.
In the final view the figure which he worships is seen to be an abject queen upon whom, because of the bloody crimes that she has done and of those as bloody that were done to her, madness is come and death is coming, but who will not believe that she is near to die and remembers only the rumour of voices challenging her sacred gardens and her fair, tall flowers that have become the food of boars.
Novalis said of love that it is the Amen of the universe, and Mangan can tell of the beauty of hate; and pure hate is as excellent as pure love. An eager spirit would cast down with violence the high traditions of Mangan’s race– love of sorrow for the sake of sorrow and despair and fearful menaces– but where their voice is a supreme entreaty to be borne with forbearance seems only a little grace; and what is so courteous and so patient as a great faith?
Every age must look for its sanction to its poetry and philosophy, for in these the human mind, as it looks backward or forward, attains to an eternal state. The philosophic mind inclines always to an elaborate life– the life of Goethe or of Leonardo da Vinci; but the life of the poet is intense– the life of Blake or of Dante– taking into its centre the life that surrounds it and flinging it abroad again amid planetary music.
With Mangan a narrow and hysterical nationality receives a last justification, for when this feeble-bodied figure departs dusk begins to veil the train of the gods, and he who listens may hear their footsteps leaving the world.
But the ancient gods, who are visions of the divine names, die and come to life many times, and, though there is dusk about their feet and darkness in their indifferent eyes, the miracle of light is renewed eternally in the imaginative soul. When the sterile and treacherous order is broken up, a voice or a host of voices is heard singing, a little faintly at first, of a serene spirit which enters woods and cities and the hearts of men, and of the life of earth– det dejlige vidunderlige jordliv det gaadefulde jordliv– beautiful, alluring, mysterious.