James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849)

James Joyce decreed Mangan was ‘the most distinguished poet of the Celtic world and one of the most inspired poets of any country ever to make use of the lyric form’.

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Yeats wished to be ‘counted one’ with him. Joyce decreed he was ‘the most distinguished poet of the Celtic world and one of the most inspired poets of any country ever to make use of the lyric form.’ His gravestone proclaims him to be ‘Ireland’s National Poet’.

James Mangan (he adopted the ‘Clarence’ later) was born in Dublin in 1803. He worked as a scrivener and journalist, with stints in the Ordnance Survey Office and the library of Trinity College, Dublin.

His poetry draws on an extraordinary range of sources, including exotic languages and legends, and features also ‘translations’ for which there were no originals. It continues the lyric flights of Shelley and Byron and the gothic fancies of Coleridge and De Quincey. It anticipates the work of Poe (nearly his exact contemporary) and the more modern notion of the poète maudit, all the while foreshadowing the work of Rimbaud, Baudelaire and Verlaine. Propelled frequently by his hypnotic rhythms, enlightened by verbal play and ingenuity, from couplets to long poems, he gives voice to the starkness of his own predicament, ‘Old and hoary at thirty-nine’, and, in a poem like ‘Siberia’, fuses a desolate interior with the great concern of Famine Ireland. His masterpieces, ‘The Nameless One’ and ‘Twenty Golden Years Ago’, are cornerstones of nineteenth-century poetry, while ardent period pieces, such as ‘Dark Rosaleen’, are anthems of a former age. In tune with the intense passions of his time, James Clarence Mangan’s work appeared in the first issue of The Nation (1842). By the time of his death — of cholera  in Dublin in 1849, his haunted brain had sung, in high-flown reverie, ‘life’s bitter cup and woe’.


(Edited by David Wheatley)
Thirty years after The Gallery Press published Selected Poems of James Clarence Mangan the young poet and scholar David Wheatley has returned to original sources to distil, from an enormous and uneven oeuvre and for a new generation, the essential, enduring glories of the poetry of an inspired soul.

Available as an ebook

Recent Gallery Press Titles

Aidan Carl MatthewsAidan Carl Mathews was born in 1956 and educated at UCD, TCD, and Stanford University. He has published three collections of poetry, WindfallsMinding Ruth (Gallery, 1983) and According to the Small Hours (1998). He has published short stories: Adventures in a Bathyscope (which was shortlisted for the GPA Award), Lipstick on the Host and Charlie Chaplin's Wishbone (2016, Lilliput) and a novel, Muesli at Midnight. Other awards include an Irish Times Award, Patrick Kavanagh Award, Macauley Fellowship and an Academy of American Poets Award.

His plays include Exit/Entrance (Gallery 1990), The Diamond BodyThe Antigone, a new version of The House of Bernarda Alba and Communion (2003). He edited Immediate ManCuimhní ar Chearbhall Ó Dálaigh. He works as a radio drama producer in RTE.

Aidan Carl Mathews Titles

Minding Ruth

Aidan Mathews’ first volume Windfalls, distinguished in itself, gave promise for the future. Minding Ruth fulfils, if it does not indeed go beyond the expectations roused by that first volume. — Seamus Deane

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