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“ Perhaps 'tis better ;-time's defacing waves
Long have quenched the radiance of my browThey who curse me nightly from their graves
Scarce could love me were they living now; But my loneliness hath darker ills
Such dun duns as Conscience, Thought, & Co., Awful Gorgons! Worse than tailors' bills
Twenty golden years ago.
“Did I paint a fifth of what I feel,
Oh, how plaintive you would ween I was ! But I won't, albeit I have a deal
More to wail about than Kerner has ! Kerner's tears are wept for withered flowers ;
Mine for withered hopes ; iny scroll of woe Dates, alas ! from youth's deserted bowers,
Twenty golden years ago.
“ Yet, may Deutschland's bardlings flourish long!
Me, I tweak no beak among them ;-hawks Dsust not pounce on hawks : besides, in song
I could once beat all of them by chalks. Though you find me, as I near my goal,
Sentimentalising like Rousseau, Oh, I had a great Byronian soul
Twenty golden years ago !
6 Tick-tick, tick-tick !—not a sound save Time's,
And the wind gust as it drives the rain
Go to bed and rest thine aching brain !
Soon thou sleepest where the thistles blow;
Twenty golden years ago !”
I find myself now in a great puzzle. I want, first of all, to say I think it most melancholy that Mangan, when of full age and judgment, should have thought Byron had a great Byronian soul.” Observe, he does not mean that he had a soul greatly like Byron's, but that he had a soul like the great soul of Byron. I do not believe Byron had a great soul at all. I believe he was simply a fine stage-manager of melodrama, the finest that ever lived, and that as a property-master he was unrivalled; but that to please no one, himself included, could he have written the play. I am not descending to so defiling a depth as to talk about plagiarism. , What I wish to say is, that whether Byron stole
or not made not the least difference in the world, for he never by the aid of his gifts or his thefts wrote a poem. I wanted further to say of Byron that there was nothing great about him except his vanity. Suddenly I remembered some words of the critic of whom I spoke a while back, in dealing with the question of poetical poetry and poems. I took down the printed page, where I found these lines :
“Mr. Swinburne's poetry is almost altogether poetical. Not all the poetry of even the Poets is so, and to one who loves this dear and intimate quality of which we speak, Coleridge, for instance, is a poet of some four poems, Wordsworth of some sixteen, Keats of five, Byron of none, though Byron is great and eloquent, but the thing we prize so much is far away from eloquence. Poetical poetry is the inner garden; there grows the 'flower of the mind.'»
Now, my difficulty is plain. My critic, who is also a poet, says Byron is great, and I find fault with Mangan for saying Byron had a great Byronian soul. Here are two of my select authors against me. Plainly, the best thing I can do is say nothing at all about the matter !
Twenty Golden Years Ago is by no means a poetical poem, but there is poetry in it. There is no poetical poem by Mangan. But he has written no serious verses in which there is not poetry.
After giving Mangan's own verse account of what he was like in his own regard at about forty years of age, I copy what Mitchel saw when the poet was first pointed out to him :
Being in the College Library [Trinity, Dublin), and having occasion for a book in that gloomy apartment of the institution called the 'Fagal Library,' which is the innermost recess of the stately building, an acquaintance pointed out to me a man perched on the top of a ladder, with the whispered information that the figure was Clarence Mangan. It was an unearthly and ghostly figure, in a brown garment; the same garment (to all appearance), which lasted till the day of his death. The blanched hair was totally unkempt; the corpselike features still as marble ; a large book was in his arms, and all his soul was in the book. I had never heard of Clarence Mangan before, and knew not for what he was celebrated, whether as a magician, a poet, or a murderer ; yet took a volume and spread it on a table, not to read, but with the pretence of reading to gaze on the spectral creature the ladder.”
I never met any one who had known Mangan. Mitchel did not know the name of the woman who lured him on with smiles that seemed to promise love. He always addressed her in his poems as Frances. Some time ago the name of the woman was divulged. It is ungallant of me to have forgotten it, but such is the case. The address at which Mangan visited her was in Mountpleasant Square, Dublin. At the time I saw the name of the lady I looked into a directory of 1848 which I happened to have by me, and found a different name at the address given in the Square. I know the love affair of the poet took place years before his death in 1849, but people in quiet and unpretentious houses in Dublin, or correctly Ranelagh, often live a whole generation in the same house.
Here I find myself in a second puzzle. So long as I thought merely of writing this rambling account of “My Borrowed Poet," I decided upon trying to say something about the stupidity of women and poets in general. But I don't feel in case to do so when I glance up at the face of Mangan hanging on the wall, and bring