1858 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Jeremiah Callanan

Samuel Austin Allibone, Critical Dictionary of English Literature (1858-71) 1:328.



James Joseph Callanan, Irish Poet, b. at Cork, 1795, d. at Lisbon, 1829, partly educated at Maynooth College for the Roman Catholic priesthood. He subsequently entered Trinity College, Dublin, with a view of becoming a barrister, and there produced two Prize Poems, — one on the Accession of George IV, the other on the Restoration by Alexander the Great of the Spoils of Athens. Suddenly abandoning the University and the study of the law, the remainder of his life in Ireland was spent in the duties of tutorship, partly in private families, and partly in the school kept at Cork by the celebrated Dr. William Maginn. Encouraged by this great scholar, Callanan translated a series of six Irish Popular Songs, which appeared in 1823 in vol. xiii. of Blackwood's Magazine. Between this time and 1827, when he quitted Ireland for Lisbon, Callanan wrote numerous poems, of which the most ambitious was "The Recluse of Inchidony," in the Spenserian stanza. His most successful pieces were lyrical. The best are "The Virgin Mary's Bank," and the spirited ballad-ode called "Gouzane Barra," commencing

There is a green island in lone Gouzane Barra,

Where Allua of songs rushes forth as an arrow,—

the most perfect, perhaps, of all Irish minor poems in the melody of its rhythm, the flow of its language, and the weird force of its expression. Mr. Callanan died as he was about returning to Ireland. A small 12mo volume of his Poems was published at Cork almost simultaneously with his death. A new edition, with a Memoir,— chiefly an expansion of an article in Bolster's Quarterly Magazine of Ireland —appeared in 1847, and a 3d edition, edited by M. F. McCarthy, author of the Memoir, was issued in 1848.