John de Jean Frazer

Life
?1804/1813-1852 [pseudonym "Jean de Jean"]; b. Birr, Co., Offaly [King’s Co.]; cabinet maker; author of nationalist verses, some of which are cited for comic effect by Sean O’Casey in The Drums of Father Ned; editor of Trades Advocate and contributor to The Nation, The Irish Felon. CAB DBIV DIW DIL MKA RAF

Works
A Poem in Three Cantos by an Author Yet Unknown (Dublin: Milliken 1826); Poems for the People by J. De Jean (Dublin: J. Browne 1845); Poems of J d J (Dublin 1851); [Do.], with a memoir by James Burke (Dublin: Mullany 1853)

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Commentary
Chris Morash, The Hungry Voice: The Poetry of the Irish Famine (1989): John de Jean Frazer, a young carpenter who in 1848, was writing some of the most overtly militant verse of the period. His ‘Harvest Pledge’ appeared in The Nation in July, embellished with all of the neo-medievalisms of the genre, ‘So the serfs, in the face of the Lord of the Manor/Set a spear for a shaft and a sheaf for a banner;/And said, “If we choose, from the sward to the sky,/From centre to shore, though shouldst yield - or die!’ ... However, by the following year, his ringing confidence had fled. ... become a plea rather than a demand in ‘The Artisan’s Apology for Emigrating’ of 1849 [‘Lacking employment, our energies rust;/Our ambitions decay into ashes and dust’]; degeneration of the ideals of the French Revolution; attempted a more personal poetry, ‘not for national glory, but for personal life’; a working man whose ‘desperate strife’ to support self and family ... made it impossible to disentangle the personal from the political; stopped writing poetry after the death of his son during the choleric epidemic of 1849; helped out financially by more affluent associates on The Nation with collected edition of his poems in 1851; died in poverty the following year. (Morash, The Hungry Voice, 1989, Introduction p.31.)

Biog. note: b. Birr, King’s co., Offaly, 1809; d. Dublin, March, 1852; wrote for The Nation and The Irishman under name of ‘John De Jean’, ‘J. De J.’, and ‘J’; prolific up to death of son in 1849; collected ed. of Poems (Dublin: McGlashan 1851); ‘Artisan’s Apology’ in The Irishman vol. 1, No. 38 (22 Sept. 1849). Morash also selects ‘extermination’ in The Irishman, vol. 1 No. 40 (6 Oct. 1849); ‘The Harvest Pledge’, The Nation, vol. 6, No. 301 (8 July 1848); ‘The Lost Labour, The Irishman, vol. 1, no. 24 (16 June 1849); ‘The Spring Flowers’, The Nation, Vol. 5, no. 234 (3 Apr. 1847), stanzas IV and V being added in version in Frazer’s Poems (1851), p.237; ‘The Three Angels’. Cork Magazine, Vol. 1 no. 10 (Aug. 1848); ‘The Queen’s Visit’, in The Irishman, vol. 1, No. 31 (4 Aug. 1849) [‘J’, poss. Frazer]. (Morash, p.286).

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References
Dictionary of National Biography (1889 ; 57 word entry by J. M. Rigg); poet, born at Birr, King's County, about 1809; cabinet-maker by occupation; employed his leisure in literary studies; wrote under the nom de plume of J. de Dean [sic; err.] a considerable quantity of sentimental and patriotic verse of no great merit; died in Dublin in 1849; incl. in Hayes’s Ballads of Ireland where some of his effusions are collected; subscribed J.M.R. (1889). Cf.

Bio-dates: D. J. O’Donoghue, Poets of Ireland 1892-; 1919) infers a birth-date of 1804 in Dublin, and corrects the death-date to 1852, crediting him with poems by “Y” in periodicals such as The Irish Felon and the Nation. Dictionary of Irish Literature, ed. Robert Hogan (Gill & Macmillan 1979) plumbs for ca.1810. See also John D. Fraser in Cabinet of Irish Literature, ed. Charles Read.

John Cooke, ed., Dublin Book of Irish Verse 1728-1909 (Dublin: Hodges, Figgis 1909); bio-dates 1809-1852; ‘The Holy Wells’ (“The emerald garden, set apart for Irishmen by God”); ‘Song for July 1843’; ‘A Lament for Thomas Davis’; ‘Brosna’s Banks’ [poss. after John Ogle’s ‘Banna’s Banks’]. Not as bad as DIL makes him out.

Brian McKenna, Irish literature, 1800-1875: A Guide to Information Sources (Detroit: Gale Research Co. 1978), bio-data: c.1804-1852; Eva O’Connor, a Poem in Three Cantos by an author yet unknown (Millikin, 1826). See also crits., characterising him as a Young Irelander, and a workman poet.

Patrick Rafroidi, Irish Literature in English, The Romantic Period, 1789-1850(Gerrards Cross: Colin Smythe 1980), Vol. I; b. 1803 or 1813; contrib. Nation; Poems for the People (1845), and Poems (McGlashan 1851). Mentioned by Yeats in Uncollected Prose, p. 161.

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Notes
Hibernia (1882-83) contains poems by “Y”, one of which was erroneously attributed by Richard Finneran to W. B. Yeats.

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