The One Mystery
‘Tis idle! we exhaust and squander
The glittering mine of thought in vain;
All-baffled reason cannot wander
Beyond her chain.
The flood of life runs dark – dark clouds
Make lampless night around its shore:
The dead, where are they? In their shrouds –
Man knows no more.
Evoke the ancient and the past,
Will one illumining star arise?
Or must the film, from first to last,
O’erspread thine eyes?
When life, love, glory, beauty, wither
Their shades depart?
Supposest thou the wondrous powers,
To high imagination given,
Pale types of what shall yet be ours,
When earth is heaven?
When this decaying shell is cold,
Oh! sayest thou the soul shall climb
That magic mount she trod of old,
Ere childhood’s time?
And shall the sacred pulse that thrilled,
Thrill once again to glory’s name?
And shall the conquering love that filled
All earth with flame,
Reborn, revived, renewed, immortal,
Resume his reign in prouder might,
A sun beyond the ebon portal
Of death and night?
No more, no more – with aching brow
And restless heart, and burning brain,
We ask the When, the Where, the How,
And ask in vain.
And all philosophy, all faith,
All earthly – all celestial lore,
Have but one voice, which only saith –
Endure – adore!
James Clarence Mangan, Irish Poet (1803-1849)
James Clarence Mangan (b. May 1, 1803 – d. June 20, 1849)
…born in Dublin, the son of a poor grocer, his father having failed to retain a job in ‘eight successive establishments’; forced him to work as a clerk in the scrivening office of Thomas Kenrick (‘dull drudgery … my heart felt as if it were gradually growing into the inanimate material I wrote on’).
He started learning languages with the guidance of a Fr. Graham who taught him Latin, Spanish, French and German. He wrote ‘charades, enigmas & riddles’ for almanacs and directories under pseudonyms.
He contributed to: The Dublin Penny Journal (as “Clarence”), The Satirist, Dublin University Magazine, Irish Monthly Magazine, and early editions of The Nation.
He fell ill during a cholera epidemic and was carried into the Meath Hospital, having been found by William Wilde in ‘a state of indescribable misery and squalor occupying a wretched hovel where he had retired to die’; he died in that hospital very soon after.
He was commemorated by Thomas MacDonagh in verse as the ‘poor splendid Poet of the burning eyes’; he was called by Yeats ‘our one poet raised to the first rank by intensity’, and by Joyce in an essay of 1907 ‘the failed standard-bearer of a failed nation’, but also ‘one of the world’s most inspired poets’.
Mangan has been called one of the greatest poets of the nineteenth century. His life may only be considered miserable. He was an opium addict at one time and a hard drinker. His fame is late in coming. Only his Dark Rosaleen was on the Irish Times list of favorite poems. To my taste he has better to choose from; he wrote over a thousand poems. Let this be a beginning for all those who are fond of poetry. The discovery of James Clarence Mangan will be rewarded. http://www.irishcultureandcustoms.com/Poetry/Mangan.html