Joseph Campbell (1879-1944)


Life
[Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil; ‘The Mountainy Man’; fam. Joe]; b. 15 July, Belfast, son of William Henry Campbell, a Catholic nationalist building-contractor, his mother being interested in things Gaelic. ed. Uladh with Hobson, and contributed plays to Ulster Literary Theatre; visited Dublin in 1902; introduced by Padraic Colum to nationalist literary leaders; contrib. Standish O’Grady’s All Ireland Review and Griffith’s United Irishman; collaborated with Herbert Hughes on Songs of Uladh (1904), written to old arranged by Herbert Hughes Irish airs, supplying words for “My Lagan Love” among others; associated with Francis Bigger and his circle; ed. with Hobson and others, Uladh (Nov. 1904), publishing “The Mountainy Man” in the second number; also a play, The Little Cowherd of Slainge (Ulster Theatre, May 1905), not successful; briefly resided in Dublin, 1905;
 
moved to London, 1906; worked as English teacher for London County Council Schools, and served as Sec. to Irish Literary Society, London; assisted Eleanor Hull on Irish Text Society; met Nancy Maude, dg. of Col. Aubrey Maude of the Cameronian Highlanders, at poetry reading, and m. 23 May 1910, against objections of her family; returned to Dublin, 1911; lived in cottage at Lackendarragh, Co. Wicklow; wrote Judgement (Abbey, April 1912) and The Turn Out, an unperformed play of 1798, both printed in the Irish Review (August 1912), with poems; acted as publicist and recruiter for the Irish Volunteers; living in Glencullen, Co. Wicklow, July 1914; engaged in rescue-work during 1916 Rising; issued translation of Pearse's Irish-language stories (1917); chairman of Wicklow County Council, 1920-1921; interned for eighteen months as a Republican, 1922-23; trans. Patrick Pearse’s poems in Irish for Collected Works [Patrick Pearse] (1922-24); sep. from Maude, Aug. 1924;
 
left Ireland, disillusioned, and settled in New York, 1925-1939; fnd. School of Irish Studies, NY, 1925; fnd. Irish Foundation, 1931; re-estab. & ed., The Irish Review, 1934; lectured at Fordham Univ., NY, 1927-38; returned to Wicklow, 1939; d. June 1944 in Wicklow, while preparing his Collected Poems; P. S. O’Hegarty prepared a bibliography in 1940; caricatured by James Joyce as ‘Mountainy Mutton’ in “Gas from a Burner”; there is a portrait by Estelle Solomons; a “A Jail Journal” (1922-23) was published as I was Among the Captives: Joseph Campbell’s Prison Diaries (2001); his library forms the Joseph Campbell Collection of the the NLI (Dublin). PI DIW DIB OCEL DIL FDA APPL DUB OCIL

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Works
Poetry
  • The Garden of the Bees (Belfast: W. Erskine Mayne; Dublin: Gill 1905);
  • [as Seosamh Mac Cathmhaoil,] The Rush-Light (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1906), 66pp.;
  • The Man-Child ([Dublin:] Loch Press 1907), 38pp.;
  • The Gilly of Christ (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1907), 19pp.;
  • The Mountainy Singer (Dublin: Maunsel 1909);
  • Mearing Stones, Notes from My Note-book on Tramp in Donegal (Dublin: Maunsel & Co. 1911);
  • Irishry (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Co. 1913), 79pp. [21 designs by author];
  • Earth of Cualann (Dublin: Maunsel 1917), 62pp. [21 designs by the author; ltd. edn. of 500 copies];
  • [as ‘Ultach’,] Orange Terror [rep. from Capuchin Annual] (Dublin 1943);
  • Austin Clarke ed. & intro., The Poems of Joseph Campbell (Dublin: Allen Figgis 1963).
 
Plays
  • The Little Cowherd of Slainge, in Uladh, No. 1 (Nov. 1904) [q.p.];
  • Judgement: A Play in Two Acts [Abbey Theatre Play Series] (Dublin: Maunsel 1912), 35pp. [Abbey April 1912], with The Turn Out [unproduced], in Irish Review (August 1912), pp.317-35.
 
Translations
  • Stories in Patrick Pearse, in [Pearse,] Collected Works (Dublin: Phoenix [Talbot] 1917); rep. as Patrick Pearse, Short Stories, trans. Joseph Campbell (UCD Press 2009), 240pp.
 
Autobiography
  • Eiléan Ní Chuileanain, ed., “I was Among the Captives”: Joseph Campbell’s Prison Diaries (Cork UP 2001), vi, 137pp.

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Criticism
  • P. S. O’Hegarty, ‘A Bibliography of Joseph Campbell/Seosamh Mac Cathmaoil’, in Dublin Magazine [New Ser.], Vol. 15, No. 4 (1940), pp.58-61; Do. [offprint edn.] (Dublin: Thom 1940);
  • Sam Hanna Bell, ‘The Poetry of Joseph Campbell’, Lagan, No. 3 [1945], pp.67-73;
  • Robert Farren, ‘Joseph Campbell: The Antrim-man’, in The Course of Irish Verse (NY: Sheed & Ward 1947; London Edn. 1948), pp.90-97;
  • Degidon [pseud.], ‘Joseph Campbell, Recollections of Joseph Campbell’, in Irish Writing, 10 (Jan. 1950), pp.66-70;
  • Padraic Colum, ‘I Remember Joseph Campbell’, in Rann, 17 (Autumn 1952), pp.10-12;
  • David R. Clark, ‘Joseph Campbell’s “The Dancer”’, in Éire-Ireland, 4, 3 (Autumn 1969), pp.82-86;
  • Terence Brown, Northern Voices: Poets from Ulster (1975), pp.73-76;
  • Nora Saunders, ‘Joseph Campbell’, in Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Conn: Greenwood Publ. 1979), pp.138-43 [unusually full article];
  • N[ora] Saunders and A. A. Kelly, Joseph Campbell, Poet and Nationalist 1879-1944: A Critical Biography (Dublin: Wolfhound Press 1988), 160pp.;
  • ‘Joseph Campbell Special Issue’, Journal of Irish Literature, VIII, 3 (Sept. 1979);
  • Benedict Kiely, ‘Memories of the Mountainy Singer’, in A Raid into Dark Corners and Other Essays (Cork UP 1999), pp.248-56.
 
See also Irish Book Lover, Vols. 1 & 2 and Francis Stuart, ‘Fighting’ [Chap. VI,] in Things to Live For (Macmillan 1935), for memories of Campbell during the Civil War.

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Commentary
J. S. Crone, “Reviews”, in The Irish Book Lover, Vol. I, No. 3 (Oct. 1909): ‘It is a pleasant recollection of the present reviewer that he once heard the late Lord Russell, of Killowen, then in the zenith of his powers, refer to the dispossessed Celtic inhabitants of Ulster, whom he had known in his youth, in words that have clung to his memory since: ‘They were called “the mountainy men”, for the rich valleys and the fertile plains were not for them’, and the fine voice faltered and a tear glistened in the eye. It was with such thoughts one took up this handsome volume, The Mountainy Singer by Seosamh MacCathmhaoil (Maunsel, Dublin). Here we have a descendant of those very men who refused to go to Connaught—or the other place—but clung to their bare hillsides and their ancient faith, and well and sweetly he sings in spirited cadences the legend, customs and superstitions that yet linger amongst his own folk. Some of these poems have appeared in earlier volumes and some set to traditional airs have delighted London drawing-rooms. This judicious. selection of the cream of the author’s work heretofore—long may he continue—is sufficient to place him high in the ranks of contemporary singers. The author has recently been holiday-making “in Ould Donegal”, about which he has recorded his impressions with a view to publica­tion later on. We have been privileged to read a portion of the MS, and we can assure our readers that as word-pictures by a true artist they are entitled to a place beside his poems, and that is the highest praise our humble judgment can accord.’ [p.28.]

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Natan Zach, ‘Imagism and Vorticism’, in Modernism: A Guide to European Literature 1890-1930 , ed. Malcolm Bradbury & James MacFarlane (Harmondsworth: Penguin 1976, 1991): ‘Despite some arguments to the contrary, the continuity of Imagist work from [T. E.] Hulme’s circle to Pound’s school can be readily traced. Joseph Campbell’s “The Dawn Whiteness” illustrates the kind of Imagist poem coming from the former [quotes]: “The dawn whiteness. A bank of slate-grey cloud lying heavily over it. The moon, like a hunted thing, dropping into the cloud.” / Slight without being trivial, the poem’s concentration on the image echoes the Symbolist stress on essential form to the exclusion of all allegedly extra-poetic matter. Though mildly suggestive of mood or state of mind, it minimizes the poet’s personal involvement, and is not manifestly symbolic in the sense of standing in for anyti-fing distinct from its own delimited surface meaning. The poem strives [233] for verbal economy, its lightness of touch recalling the Japanese Haiku.’ (pp.233-34.)

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Michael Laffan, review of Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, ed., As I was Among the Captives: Joseph Campbell’s Prison Diary 1922-1923 (Cork UP 2001), notes that Campbell regarded the death of Griffith and Collins as ‘miraculous interposition of providence’ and felt no regret at the destruction of the Public Records Office, ‘documents validating spoliation & conquest’.

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Patrick Maume quotes Anne Markey’ s introduction to Joseph Campbell, translation of the Irish-language stories of Patrick Pearse, originally published in 1917, reissued by by UCD Press [2009]: ‘He assiduously strove to avoid literary ornamentation and tried instead to cultivate a colloquial style that echoed Pearse’s own vernacular. His [Campbell’s] translations are not flawless. Sometimes, indeed, they are inaccurate, as, for example, when he renders “o gach uile aird” as “from every art” (p.94) instead of “from every direction”.’ (Markey, p.xxxix.) Maume remarks: ‘In fact, Campbell is not, strictly speaking, inaccurate. He is using a Scottish/Ulster expression “art” or “airt” presumably derived from the Gaelic, which does mean “direction” as in Robert Burns: “Of a’ the airts the wind can blaw, I dearly like the west, For there the bonie lassie lives, The lassie I lo’e best”’ - with link to full text at Robert Burns website. (Diaspora E-list, 20.05.2009.)

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Quotations
“Gombeen”: ‘And so behind his web of bales, / Horse halters, barrels, pucaun sails / The gombeen like a spider sits, / Surfeited; and for all his wits, / As poor as one who never knew / The treasure of the early dew.’ (Given in John Montague, ed., Faber Book of Irish Verse, p. 248.)

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1912): ‘clever young Catholic poet and artist ... writes under Irish form of his name (Joseph Campbell) is a native of Belfast and now resides near Dublin; represented in Dublin Book of Irish Verse [ed. Cooke] (1909).

Donagh MacDonagh, ed. and intro., Poems from Ireland, ed. with an intro., with a preface by R. M. Smyllie (Dublin: The Irish Times 1944), notes that he ‘lectured at Fordham University; returning to [Ireland] in the present war [i.e., 1939-45] he contributed many poems to the Irish Times under his own name and under the pseud. of ‘Ultach’; his Collected Poems appeared in 1936 [... &c.]’

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Robert Hogan, ed., Dictionary of Irish Literature (Dublin: Gill & Macmillan 1979), lists The Little Cowherd of Slainge, a play printed in Uladh, No. 1, and cites contemporaneous review of same, ending “Campbell has not yet found his voice”. Remarks that there was a Austin Clarke broadcast on Campbell, 1938; Campbell himself broadcast on Jan. 28 1942. Campbell had friendships with Colum and F. J. Bigger [‘the Ulster politician’]; actor, playwright and editor in Ulster literary movement; m. Nancy Maude in London [c.1911]; Quotes: ‘Who would unlook me / Must file for himself a key of three words– / Vision, Energy, Bleakness’, qualities the Campbell though characteristic of Irish poetry; also ‘I am the mountainy singer– / The voice of the peasant’s dream, / The cry of the wind on the wooded hill, / The leap of the fish in the stream.’ Also quotes from Irishry: ‘As the spent radiance / Of the winter sun, / So is a woman / With her travail done. // Her brood gone from her, / And her thoughts as still / As the waters / Under a ruined mill.’

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Brian M. Walker, et al., eds., Faces of Ireland (Belfast: Appletree 1992), selects “Harvest Song”, and remarks that he set the life of Christ among the people and fields of Ulster’s countryside.

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, selects “Who Buys Land” [‘Who buys land / Buys many stones, Who buys flesh / Buys many bones ...’] from The Rushlight, “When Rooks Fly Homeward”, “I am the Gilly of Christ”, “As I Came Over the Grey, Grey Hills”, from The Gilly of Christ (1907); “I am the Mountainy Singer” (b), from The Mountainy Singer (1909); “The Gombeen”, “The Old age Pensioner”, from Irishry (1913) [759-62]. Biog., 780-81. Note also that the editor of the James Joyce section in The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing, Vol. 2, remarks that Campbell’s Judgement: A Play in two Acts (Maunsel 1912) uses the words ‘bastard’ and ‘whore’ (on p.25) and further adds that Campbell is behind the reference to ‘Mountainy Mutton’ in Joyce’s Gas from a Burner.

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Notes
Brian Fallon calls Campbell a Georgian poet, with Colum and F.R. Higgins, in Irish Times ‘Reassessment’ [see Higgins, RX infra], while Terence Brown compare him to Walter de la Mare (See Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, 1996).

Lock-up: Campbell is rumoured to have sought internment to escape an unhappy marriage, according to Francis Stuart on the information of Peadar ODonnell.

Sugar Loaf: Lilly [Eliz.] Yeats had a vision of a ‘tall woman [...] full of charm’ and her lover, who dies of tuberculosis, in the house in Glencullen, Co. Wicklow, occupied by the Campbells in July 1914: ‘the house was very lonely and buried away, a big old house with a view of the Sugarloaf mountains. It was partly furnished by the Campbells and partly by furniture belonging to the landlord. [...].’ (Letter to Oliver Elton, 28 Aug. 1916.)

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