James Clarence Mangan
Biography of James Clarence Mangan
James Clarence Mangan, born James Mangan was an Irish poet.
Mangan was the son of a former hedge school teacher who took over a grocery business and eventually became bankrupt.
Born in Dublin, he was educated at a Jesuit school where he learned the rudiments of Latin, Spanish, French, and Italian. He attended three different schools until the age of fifteen. Obliged to find a job in order to support his family, he became a lawyer's clerk, and was later an employee of the Ordnance Survey and an assistant in the Library of Trinity College, Dublin.
Mangan began submitting verses to various Dublin publications, the first being published in 1818. From 1820 onwards he adopted the middle name Clarence. In 1830 he began producing translations from German, a language he had taught himself. Of interest are his translations of Goethe. From 1834 his contributions began appearing in the Dublin University Magazine. His translations from the German were generally free interpretations rather than strict transliterations. In 1840 he began producing translations from Turkish, Persian, Arabic, and Irish.
Although his early poetry was often apolitical, after the Great Famine he began writing poems with a strong nationalist bent, including influential works such as My Dark Rosaleen or Róisín Dubh and A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century.
Mangan was a lonely and difficult man who suffered from mood swings, depression and irrational fears, and became a heavy drinker. His appearance was eccentric, and later in life he was often seen wearing a long cloak, green spectacles and a blond wig. In 1849, weakened by poverty, alcoholism and malnutrition, he succumbed to cholera, aged 46, and was buried in Glasnevin Cemetery.
James Joyce wrote a significant essay on Mangan, and also used his name in his works, e.g. Araby in Dubliners. The significance, it is said, lies in part in Joyce's reluctance to acknowledge influence from the Irish literary tradition: he was otherwise chary of adopting any artistic predecessors.
He was addicted to opium and alcohol and was friends with fellow Irish Nationalists, Thomas Osborne Davis and John Mitchel. Mitchel even wrote a biography after Mangan's death.
His poems were published in The Nation (Irish newspaper), a Nationalist newspaper first published in October 1842. Yeats considered Mangan one of the best Irish poets, along with Thomas Osborne Davis and Samuel Ferguson, claiming, "To the soul of Clarence Mangan was tied the burning ribbon of Genius."
His most famous poems include Dark Rosaleen, Siberia, Nameless One, A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century, The Funerals, To the Ruins of Donegal Castle, Pleasant Prospects for the Land-eaters and Woman of Three Cows. He also wrote a brief autobiography on the advice of his friend, Father C. P. Meehan, which ends cutoff mid-sentence. He must have been writing in the last months of his life since he mentions his narrative poem of the Italian Gasparo Bandollo which was published in the Dublin University Magazine in May 1849. A sensationally discovered continuation of the autobiography appeared in the Dublin journal Metre in 2001, but was later discovered to be a fake.
Among the contemporary Irish writers he has influenced are Thomas Kinsella, Michael Smith, James McCabe (author of the hoax autobiography) and David Wheatley, author of a sonnet sequence on Mangan. He is also cited by the song writer Shane MacGowan as an inspiration, both for his work and his lifestyle.
Private papers of Mangan are held in the National Library of Ireland, the Royal Irish Academy, and the archives of Trinity College, Dublin.
James Clarence Mangan's Works:
James Clarence Mangan: Selected Writings
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James Clarence Mangan Poems
The Nameless One
ROLL forth, my song, like the rushing river, That sweeps along to the mighty sea; God will inspire me while I deliver My soul of thee!
LONG they pine in weary woe - the nobles of our land - Long they wander to and fro, proscribed, alas! and banned;
Shapes And Signs
I SEE black dragons mount the sky, I see earth yawn beneath my feet - I feel within the asp, the worm That will not sleep and cannot die,
O MY Dark Rosaleen, Do not sigh, do not weep! The priests are on the ocean green, They march along the deep.
IN Siberia's wastes The ice-wind's breath Woundeth like the toothed steel; Lost Siberia doth reveal
Lament For Banba
O MY land! O my love! What a woe, and how deep, Is thy death to my long mourning soul! God alone, God above,
O’hussey’s Ode To The Maguire
Where is my chief, my master, this bleak night, mavrone? O cold, cold, miserably cold is this bleak night for Hugh! Its showery, arrowy, speary sleet pierceth one thro’ and thro’, Pierceth one to the very bone.
King Cahal Mór Of The Wine-Red Hand
I WALKED entranced Through a land of Morn: The sun, with wondrous excess of light, Shone down and glanced
And Then No More
I SAW her once, one little while, and then no more: ’Twas Eden’s light on Earth a while, and then no more.
AH, where, Kincora! is Brian the Great? And where is the beauty that once was thine? Oh, where are the princes and nobles that sate
Woman Of Three Crows
A Farewell To Patrick Sarsfield, Earl Of...
Farewell, O Patrick Sarsfield, may luck be on your path! Your camp is broken up, your work is marred for years; But you go to kindle into flame the King of France’s wrath, Though you leave sick Eire in tears—
A Lament For The Princes Of Tyrone And T...
O WOMAN of the piercing wail, Who mournest o’er yon mound of clay With sigh and groan, Would God thou wert among the Gael!
A Lamantation For The Death Of Sir Mauri...
THERE was lifted up one voice of woe, One lament of more than mortal grief, Through the wide South to and fro, For a fallen Chief.
The Nameless One
ROLL forth, my song, like the rushing river,
That sweeps along to the mighty sea;
God will inspire me while I deliver
My soul of thee!
Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening
Amid the last homes of youth and eld,
That once there was one whose veins ran lightning
No eye beheld.