1826 ENGLISH POETRY 1579-1830: SPENSER AND THE TRADITION

Joseph Jeremiah Callanan

Richard Ryan, "Jeremiah Joseph Callanan" Poetry and Poets: being a Collection of the choicest Anecdotes relative to the Poets of every Age and Nation (1826) 2:135-39.



Cork, at this moment, holds within it (natives) a most respectable number of the sons of song; at the head of whom decidedly is Jeremiah Joseph Callanan, a name which it is not too much to say, will, at no very remote period, when his various spirited and delightful productions will meet the public eye, rank amongst the most distinguished of Ireland's bards, living or gone.

He is now preparing a volume of his poetry for publication, and the literati will perceive, from the specimens of it here given, what its character and claims on their patronage will be.

Callanan was originally intended for the Catholic priesthood, and studied, for some years, at the College of Maynooth. Changing his determination, he entered Trinity College as a pensioner, directing his studies to the law, which he intended to make his future profession. While in Trinity, he distinguished himself twice amongst the poetic candidates for prizes, being each time declared the victor. The conduct of the judges, on one of these occasions, in the distribution of the reward, disgusted Mr. C., and he quitted the College in consequence. He has since been a resident in Cork. Some of his minor poems have, from time to time, appeared in the Cork Chronicle, and been from thence copied into several English papers. He has, also, published some very beautiful and vigorous translations from the Irish, in Blackwood's Magazine (February, 1823.)

The following piece of poetry, written under circumstances the most unfavourable to poetic genius, we doubt not, our readers will deem deserving of the highest eulogy.

THE VIRGIN MARY'S BANK.
The Evening Star rose beauteous above the fading day,
As to the lone and solemn beach the Virgin came to pray,
And hill and wave shone brightly in the moonlight's mellow fall,
But the bank of green where Mary knelt was the brightest of them all.
Slow moving o'er the waters, a gallant bark appeared,
And her joyous crew look'd from the deck, as to the land she near'd;
To the calm and shelter'd haven she floated like a swan,
And her wings of snow, o'er the waves below, in pride and beauty shone.

The master saw "Our Lady," as he stood upon the prow,
And mark'd the whiteness of her robe, and the radiance of her brow;
Her arms were folded gracefully upon her stainless breast,
And her eyes look'd up amongst the stars to HIM her soul lov'd best.
He shew'd her to his sailors, and he hail'd her with a cheer,
And on the kneeling Virgin they gaz'd with laugh and jeer;
And madly swore a form so fair they never saw before,
And they curs'd the faint lagging breeze that kept them from the shore.

The Ocean from its bosom shook off the moonlight sheen,
And up its wrathful billows rose to vindicate their Queen,
And a cloud came o'er the heavens, and a darkness o'er the land,
And the scoffing crew beheld no more "The Lady" on the strand.
Out burst the growling thunder, and the lightning leap'd about,
And rushing with it's wat'ry war, the tempest gave a shout,
And that vessel from a mountain wave came down with thund'ring shock,
And her timbers flew like scatter'd spray on Inchidony's rock.

Then loud from all that guilty crew, one shriek rose wild and high,
But the angry surge swept over them and hush'd their gurgling cry;
And, with a hoarse exulting tone, the tempest passed away,
And down, still chafing from their strife, the indignant waters lay.
When the calm and purple morning shone out on high Dunmore,
Full many a mangled corpse was seen on Inchidony's shore;
And to this day the fisherman shews where these scoffers sank,
And still he calls that hillock green, "The Virgin Mary's Bank."