A bit late for St. Patrick's day, but...
(Poem #41) Ireland, Ireland
Down thy valleys, Ireland, Ireland, Down thy valleys green and sad, Still thy spirit wanders wailing, Wanders wailing, wanders mad. Long ago that anguish took thee, Ireland, Ireland, green and fair, Spoilers strong in darkness took thee, Broke thy heart and left thee there. Down thy valleys, Ireland, Ireland, Still thy spirit wanders mad; All too late they love that wronged thee, Ireland, Ireland, green and sad.
This is a beautifully Irish poem - musical, plaintive and poignant; it is somewhat surprising that it was written by an Englishman. I am not, in general, a fan of Newbolt's - his rhythms can get monotonous, his attitudes sententious and his 'dialect poems' annoying. This piece, in refreshing contrast, is simple yet evocative, the phrases and images ringing true, and the repetitions and metronomic metre reinforcing the mood rather than spoiling it. I'd love to see it set to music - it recalls some of the more keening Celtic melodies, though as much by its content as by its rhythm. Biographical Notes: b. June 6, 1862, Bilston, Staffordshire, Eng.; d. April 19, 1938, London English poet, best-known for his patriotic and nautical verse. Newbolt was educated at Clifton Theological College and at Corpus Christi College, Oxford. He was admitted to the bar at Lincoln's Inn in 1887 and practiced law until 1899. The appearance of his ballads, Admirals All (1897), which included the stirring "Drake's Drum," created his literary reputation. These were followed by other volumes collected in Poems: New and Old (1912; rev. ed. 1919). During World War I he was comptroller of wireless and cables and was later commissioned to complete Great Britain's official naval history of the war. He also edited various anthologies of verse, which reveal his catholic and progressive taste in poetry. He was knighted in 1915 and appointed a Companion of Honour in 1922. -- E.B. Criticism: [Newbolt's] early work was frankly imitative of Tennyson; he even attempted to add to the Arthurian legends with a drama in blank verse entitled Mordred (1895). It was not until he wrote his sea-ballads that he struck his own note. With the publication of Admirals All (1897) his fame was widespread. The popularity of his lines was due not so much to the subject-matter of Newbolt's verse as to the breeziness of his music, the solid beat of rhythm, the vigorous swing of his stanzas. In 1898 Newbolt published The Island Race, which contains about thirty more of his buoyant songs of the sea. Besides being a poet, Newbolt has written many essays and his critical volume, A New Study of English Poetry (1917), is a collection of articles that are both analytical and alive. -- Untermeyer, Louis, ed. 1920. Modern British Poetry. m.