Rose Kavanagh (1860-91)


Life
[occas. pseud., “Ruby”, or “Uncle Remus”]; b. 24 June [St. John’s Night] 1860, Killadroy, Co Tyrone, 24 June; related through her mother to Archbishop Hughes of New York; family moved to Mullaghmore, nr. Augher, 1871; ed. Omagh Loreto [var. Loretto] Convent and later at the Dublin Metropolitan Art School [aetat. 20]; her poem “Knockmany” publ. in The Irish Monthly, her first contribution; worked on The Irishman (ed. Richard Pigott - ‘a fine fat rat’ acc. to Kavanagh); ed. and contrib. to The Shamrock, and Irish Fireside (an off-shoot of the Freeman’s Journal) which she edited and to which she contrib. “Uncle Remus to his Neices and Nephews” - afterwards continued in the Weekly Freeman on the demise of the Fireside in 1889 [see Yeats, Coll. Letters, 1986, p.16n.]; entertained writers in the Fireside premises on Middle Abbey St.; establshed the Fireside Club for junior members [children]; also contrib. to Dublin University Review, Nation, Young Ireland, and Boston Pilot (ed. John Boyle O’Reilly) and Providence Journal (ed. Alfred Williams), et al.;
 
she was a long-term friend of Charles Kickham, whom she nursed in his last illness, and who called her the “Rose of Knockmany” after her own poem and whom she commemorated in a poem (“Charles Kickham”); also a friend of Alice Milligan and Anna Johnston [“Ethna Carbery”], Katharine Tynan, and Hester and Dora Sigerson; unsuccessfully submitted a poem, “April”, to Merry England (ed. Wilfred Meynell), 1885 [aetat. 25], and did not attempt London publication again; wrote the children’s section for The Irish Fireside, and was afterwards appt. head of children’s section [dept.] of the Weekly Freeman; best remembered for her children’s “Uncle Remus” series; much beloved by contemporaries; in common with other family members she suffered from tuberculosis [phthisis]; visited Paris in 1889;
 
Kavanagh’s last poem, “Ellen O’Leary”, returned a tribute that Ellen had previously paid her; she contracted a cold while visiting her mother at Christmas Dec. 1890, and d. 26 Feb. 1891 [aetat. 31], nursed by her sister Mrs. Campbell; bur. Forth Chapel (St. McCartan’s), nr. Augher, in keeping with her own request; Dr Sigerson was her physician; a brother died of as a seminarian TB in Maynooth; one sister likewise died, nursed by Rose, whole another emigrated to New Zealand; Katharine Tynan wrote two elegies on her; Fr. Russell frequently lamented her in Irish Monthly and issued Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (1909), with an introductory memoir (‘sweeter than any of her poems’), a selection of elegies on her, and an anthology; her “Uncle Remus” column was perpetuated by “Uncle Remus II”; her poem “Ellen O’Leary” in mem. of the dg. of John O’Leary - appeared in Irish Monthly (Jan. 1890); she is the probably originator of the phrase the ‘hearts’s core’ which Yeats made famous with his “Lake Isle of Inisfree” [see note, infra.] PI DBIV JMC DUB OCIL

There is an able entry in Wikipedia - online; accessed 29.07.2015.

Irish newspapers ..
The Shamrock (1866-1913) was formerly the associated with William O’;Brien and latterly the property of Richard Piggot [q.v.]; The Irish Fireside was started in the early 1880s by Mrs. Dwyer Gray, wife of Sir John Gray [q.v.], proprietor of the Freeman’s Journal whose offices in Middle Abbey St.; the first editor was the novelist James Murphy, who was succeeded by Kavanagh in 1887 ...

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Works
Poetry
  • Rev. Matthew Russell [ed.,], Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (Dublin & Waterford: M. H. Gill & Son 1909), 70pp. [see details];
Prose
  • “Gerald Griffin”, in The Irish Monthly, Vol. XIII (Nov. 1885), p.606.
  • “Kilaveena”, in The Irish Monthly, Vol. 23 (1895) [q.pp.; noticed in Russell, op. cit., 1909, p.10.]
  • ‘Gerald Griffin’s Life and Poetry’, in Irish Monthly, xviii (Jan. 1900), pp.15-27.

Also ed. Weekly Freeman Christmas Sketch book and Uncle Remus’s Christmas Gifts (1888) [6d.]

Note: Her best-known poems incl. “Rose of Knockmany”; “Northern Blackwater” “Lough Bray”, and “St. Michan’s Churchyard”. She contrib. an article on ‘Gerald Griffin’s Life and Poetry’ to Irish Monthly, 28 (1900), pp.15-27. She is anthologised in Brooke/Rolleston, Cooke, Graves, Sparling, and Yeats. “Ellen O’Leary” - in mem. the dg. of John O’Leary - appeared in Irish Monthly (Jan. 1890), p.609.

Rev. Matthew Russell [ed.,], Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1909) is available at Internet Archive [online; accessed 3.07.2010.] Note that Kavanagh is cited as the source of memoirs of Kickham in Matthew Russell’s introduction to Kickham’s Knocknagow [2rd edn.] (1879)
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Bibliographical details

Rev. Matthew Russell, S.J. [ed. & intro.], Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (Dublin: M. H. Gill & Son 1909), 70pp. CONTENTS: 1. HERSELF [1]. II: HER MEMORY. Rose Kavanagh - Katharine Tynan [23]; To Rose in Heaven - Tynan [24]; Requiescat - J. B. Killen [16]; In Remembrance of Rose Kavanagh - Thomas Donohoe [27]; In Memoriam Rosae - Eugene Davis [28]; Requiescat in Pace - Northern Gael [29].

III: HER VERSES. The Northern Blackwater [33]; Lough Bray [35]; An April Day [36]; St. Michan’s Churchyard [37]; Knockmany [39]; Gerald Griffin [39]; The Swallows’ Message [40] Charles Kickham [43]; A Caoine - John Boyle O’Reilly [44]; The Turn of the Tide [45]; In Exile [47]; Dearvorgill at Mellifont [51]; Christmas Eve in a Suspect’s Home [55]; Bresal’s Bride [57]; A Night in ’98 [60]; Vainer than Vanity [62]; The Hillside To-day [65]; An Autumn Day in Ireland [66]; Anne [68]; Ellen O’Leary [69]; Afterword [70].

Note: In “Herself”, his introduction to Rose Kavanagh ... [&c.] (1909; as supra), Fr. Russell includes the text of the poem that Kavanagh sent to Merry England in 1855 and which the editor rejected with a mixture of criticism and encouragement. For the full text see Appendix, in “Poems of Rose Kavanagh” [attached].

Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (1909) is available at Internet Archive as text.

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Criticism
  • Rev. Matthew Russell, S.J., ‘Rose Kavanagh: Some Scraps from Her Life and Her Letters’, in The Irish Monthly, 19, 220 (Oct. 1891), pp.512-21 [available in JSTOR online; see extract];
  • W. B. Yeats, ‘Death of a Promising Poet’ [var. ‘Rose Kavanagh’], in Boston Pilot (11 April 1891), rep. in Letters to the New Island, ed. George Bornstein and Hugh Witemeyer (London: Macillan 1989), pp.118-24. [see extract];
  • Katherine Tynan, Memories (London: Eveleigh Nash & Grayson 1924) [devotes a chapter to her].
  • Ríona Nic Congáil, ‘“Fiction, Amusement, Instruction”: The Irish Fireside Club and the Educational Ideology of the Gaelic League’in Éire-Ireland, 44, 1 & 2 (Spring/Summer 2009), pp. 91-117
 

See also elegies by her contemporaries - as infra, and comments by Alfred Williams (quoted extensively in Russell, op. cit., 1909) - given under Williams [q.v.].

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Commentary

Poems on Rose Kavanagh written by her contemporaries
[ The poems will appear as part of the same file in a separate window. ]

W. B. Yeats, ‘Death of a Promising Poet’ in the Boston Pilot (11 April 1891): ‘[…] The mere May blossoming of a young inspiration whose great promise was robbed of fulfilment first by ill-health and then by an early death. Readers of future anthologies will know the name [...] but they will not know the noble, merry, and gentle personality that produced them. [... In] “The Northern Blackwater” Miss Kavanagh seems to me to have reached a delicacy of thought and expression that reminds one of Kickham at his best. The last verse begins finely with - “Once in the May-time your carols so sweet / Found out my heart in the midst of the street -” and ends with a note of that tender sadness so very near to all she has written. Was it a shadow of the tomb?’ [Cont.]

W. B. Yeats (‘Death of a Promising Poet’, 1891) - cont.: ‘Like most of the best Irish verse of recent years it is meditative and sympathetic, [13] rather than stirring and energetic - the trumpet has given way to the viol and the flute. It is easy to be unjust to such poetry, but very hard to write it. It springs straight out of nature from some well-spring of refinement and gentleness. It makes half the pathos of literary history. [...]’ (Q.p.; quoted in Matthew Russell, S.J., Rose Kavanagh and her Verses, 1909, p.13-14 [n.p.].) Also quoted in small part in “Rose Kavanagh”, in Dictionary of Ulster Biography, by Kate Newmann, Belfast: QUB/IIS 1993; see also Dominic Daly, The Young Douglas Hyde, p.85 & n.)

W. B. Yeats, “Tradition and Poetry” (1907): ‘Rose Kavanagh, the poet, wrote to her religious adviser from, I think, Leitrim, where she lived, and asked him to get her the works of Mazzini. He replied, “You must mean Manzoni.”’ (In the Cutting of an Agate, 1912; rep. in Essays and Introductions, Macmillan 1961, pp.246-60; p.246 [see longer extract - infra.) [Note: Yeats has Manzone.]

Note: On 18 May 1887, Yeats wrote to Katherine Tynan that he had met Ernest Rhys whose friend [H. H. Sparling] was editing a book of Irish songs for the “Canterbury” poets [series]. ‘Knowing that the Irish monthly had published at various times articles on Irish poets some little known of, I ventured to suggest that he should write to Father Russel [sic for Fr. Matthew Russell] as I know not in what numbers these articles of Miss Kavanaghs little poems appeared. I wish I could get a copy of Sir Charles Gavan Duffies [sic] article on Miss O Learys songs - I will get one somewhere and let him see it [...]’ (Coll. Letters, 1986, p.16.)

Letters of W B Yeats, Vol. I ed. John Kelly (OUP 1986): Yeats was in correspondence with Rose Kavanagh in Dec. 1888, writing to Katherine Tynan: ‘Today Tuesday I take up this leter to finish it the collapse is done thank goodness. I got the Xmas Weekly Freeman with your long ballad (Miss Kavanagh sent it to me) and read it to papa. [...]’ (Letters I, p.118.) On 27 June 1887, WBY notifies Tynan that he sent a poem to Miss Kavanagh at The Irish Fireside (Letters I, p.23) - and adds the question in an addendum of 1 July, ‘do you see Miss Kavanagh and the Sigersons?’ (Letters I, p.24.) On [5] Aug. [1887], he reports to Tynan that he has heard from Kavanagh who has suggested that he ’work up’ a poem - probably "The Protestants’ Leap". On 10 Sept. [1887] he writes to H. H. Sparling about a "complementary allusion" to him in which Yeats "recognis[s] Miss Kavanagh’s hand" (Letters I, p.36). Tynan provided facts about WBY, Kavanagh, and others to John James Piatt who intended to lecture in America on Irish poets (Letters I, p.39n.) Her “St. Michan’s Churchyard” on Emmet included in Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland (1888) (Letters I, p.65n. [66]). He asks Tynan, ‘What is Miss Kavanagh doing?Ơ (Letter of 28 July [1888]; Letters I, p.88.) To John O’Leary ([19] Nov. [1888]): ‘I am thinking of writing to Miss Kavanagh for some particulars of Northern papers.’ (Letters I, p.109.) Letter to Tynan, wondering ‘where I should advertise Folklore book’ - ‘I wrote & asked Miss kavanagh (she being the only journalist of my acquaintance) but have not heard.’ (4 Dec. [1888]; Letters I, p.111.) Miss Kavanagh sends WBY Xmas Freeman Weekly with Tynan’s ‘long ballad’ - and Yeats père’s response (Letters I, p.118.) Letter to John O’Leary: ‘I am sorry to hear about Miss Kavanagh not being so [175] well, & glad to hear of her going to Paris - does she write anything now - I wish she would make her Uncle Rhemus children hunt up folktales. She might make one or two of her weekly competitions on the matter. She got a couple or so from the children at Xmas & they were very interesting. I could give any help needful in the matter.’ (late July 1889; Letters I, pp.175-76.) Yeats asks Tynan, "Who wrote the charming article on Rose Kavanagh in current Irish Monthly. It is signed O.K.? (Letter, [16 July 1891]; Letters I, p.257; the article appeared as "’Uncle Remus": reminiscences of Rose Kavanagh by “O.K.”, in Irish Monthly, July 1891, pp.263-66 and the author was identified by Fr. Russell as Revd. Richard O’Kennedy, a parish priest in Co. Limerick, in Rose Kavanagh and her Verse , Dublin 1909.)

Letter to Tynan (5 March [1891]: ‘Yesterday I got a paper with Miss Kavanaghs [sic] death announced in it. It was a great shock to us all. Lolly had some knowledge of how very ill she was [244] but I had none. The last I head was that she was better. I had had no expectation what ever that we would lose her so soon. Only the other day I reread her “St Michan’s Churchyard” [in Poems and Ballads of Young Ireland, 1888] & thought how charming it was. Everything she did was so like her self - it had the same quiet & gentle sincerity. It was so entirely untouched by the restless ambition that makes writers untrue to themselves. She was essentially it seems to me what people mean by the phrase “a beautiful soul”. To you & me & all of us she is in every way a loss. Some of the pleasure of writing is gone in that we cannot send her anymore anything we write. How our old circle is broken up - first Miss O’Leary & now Miss Kavanagh. I think of sending some notice of her to the Pilot unless you wish to do so. I will write one tomorrow, & send it unless you tell me that you have intentions of so doing in which case my account can go elsewhere. So please let me know at once. Miss Kavanagh’s death is much sadder than Miss O Learys [sic]. Miss O’Leary had had a full & not wholly short life while Miss Kavanagh dies with all her plans & projects uncompleted all her promise unfulfilled. I feel sure that we take up our half done labours in other lives & carry them to conclusion. If it were not so the best of lives were not worth living & the universe wold have no order & purpose. I think you have some such thought in one of your poems.’ (Letters I, p.244-45; ftn. ref. to penult. stanza of Tynan’s poem “In a Cathedral”, in Century Guild Hobby Horse, June 1888; note also remarks on the bathos of the final stanza, afterwards omitted, Letters I, p.149n.)

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You must mean Manzone’ - Yeats opens his essay on “Poetry and Tradition” in The Cutting of the Agate (NY: Macmillan 1912) with remarks distinguishing his nationalism from the nationalism of the political majority in Ireland instancing Mr. O’Leary as his kind of nationalist: ‘When Mr. O’Leary died I could not bring myself to go to his funeral, though I had been once his close fellow-worker, for I shrank from seeing about his grave so many whose Nationalism was different from anything he had taught or that I could share. He belonged, as did his friend John F. Taylor, to the romantic conception of Irish Nationality on which Lionel Johnson and myself founded, so far as it was founded on anything but literature, our Art and our Irish criticism. Perhaps his spirit, if it can care for or can see old friends now, will accept this apology for an absence that has troubled me. I learned much from him and much from Taylor, who will always seem to me the greatest orator I have heard; and that ideal Ireland, perhaps from this out an imaginary Ireland, in whose service I [117] labour, will always be in many essentials their Ireland. They were the last to speak an understanding of life and Nationality, built up by the generation of Grattan, which read Homer and Virgil, and by the generation of Davis, which had been pierced through by the idealism of Mazzini, [Ftn.] and of the European revolutionists of the mid-century. [...]

[The footnote reads - ‘Rose Kavanagh, the poet, wrote to her religious adviser from, I think, Leitrim, where she lived, and asked him to get her the works of Mazzini. He replied, ‘You must mean Manzone.’]

See further: ‘I remember, when I was twenty years old, arguing, on my way home from a Young Ireland Society, that Ireland, with its hieratic Church, its readiness to accept leadership in intellectual things,—and John O’Leary spoke much of this [123] readiness, — its Latin hatred of middle paths and uncompleted arguments, could never create a democratic poet of the type of Burns, although it had tried to do so more than once, but that its genius would in the long run be aristocratic and lonely. Whenever I had known some old countryman, I had heard stories and sayings that arose out of an imagination that would have understood Homer better than The Cotter’s Saturday Night or Highland Mary, because it was an ancient imagination, where the sediment had found the time to settle, and I believe that the makers of deliberate literature could still take passion and theme, though but little thought, from such as he. On some such old and broken stem, I thought, have all the most beautiful roses been grafted.’ ’

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[Rev. Matthew Russell, S.J.], ‘Some Scraps from Her Life and Letters’, in The Irish Monthly, 19, 220 (Oct. 1891), pp.512-21: ‘Since her death, six months ago, the name of Rose Kavanagh has appeared in these pages almost, every mouth, Three of our poets have paid tribute to her memory, one of them twice, over; and a gifted Irish priest has given some touching reminiscences of her, calling her by her quaint nom de plume nom “Uncle, Remus,” To many of our readers her name was unknown; and, changing the pronoun in a well-known Scripture text, they were doubtless inclined to ask : “Who is she, and we will praise her?” She was a young Irishwoman, who in her short life, found or made opportunities of showing that she possessed a beautiful nature and many gifts, by which she won the deep regard and admiration of all who had the privilege of her friendship. [...]’ (Cont.)

[Russell, ‘Some Scraps from Her Life and Letters’, in The Irish Monthly, 19, 220 (Oct. 1891) - cont.:] ‘Rose was passionately fond of books from the earliest year that it was possible for a bright child to read them. She was educated at the Loretto Convent, Omagh. Her twentieth year found her studying in the Metropolitan School of Art: for her first aspiration was to be a painter. She gradually, however, transferred her allegiance from Art, to Literature, like Thackeray and many another; and she soon became a contributor, and even a paid contributor, to several journals and magazines on both sides of the Atlantic. One long story and innumerable short stories, many essays and a few poems, constitute her contribution to Irish literature. For the last three or four years of her life any exertions that her failing health allowed her to make were devoted to the superintendence of the Children’s Department of The Irish Fireside, in which she (and not any white-headed old gentleman such as her youthful correspondents probably imagined) was the Uncle Remus of the Fireside Club, afterwards transferred to The Weekly Freeman.’ (See full article at JSTOR [online; accessed 02.07.2010].)

Rev. Matthew Russell, Rose Kavanagh and her Verses (Dublin & Waterford: M. H. Gill 1909) - “Afterword”: ‘“Foreword” is sometimes employed as a less formal title than “preface”; and the use of a corresponding term on this concluding page of our book will save me from appending to the last of Rose Kavanagh’s verses a note longer than itself. That little poem has been placed last of all because it was the very last written by the dying girl, to be put in front of Ellen O’Leary’s “Lays of Country, Home, and Friends,” published about the time of her death, in 1891. Miss O’Leary had died two years previously, seventeen years before her brother, John O’Leary, the most thoughtful and intelligent of the Fenian leaders of ’65. To this brother she was devotedly attached, and her influence and her prayers during life and afterwards helped to secure for that remarkable man the grace of a good Christian death. With the change of one word this tiny but stately elegy might have been written for the writer of it - the sweet and gifted young Irishwoman, pure-souled, high-minded, and warm-hearted, to whose very lovable memory this book is lovingly consecrated.’ (p.70.)

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W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (London 1894; rep. Lemma Publishing Corp., NY 1970): ‘Rose Kavanagh furnished studies of a simple, idyllic Ulster life of the kind certain political utterances would never lead us to expect in the northern province.’ (p.8.) Further: ‘with a weak frame, a pale and beautiful face, whose light was alas! to be quenched by an untimely death, a simple and joyous nature, she [Kavanagh] embodied to her associates some of the tenderest and worthiest traits of Irish womanhood. She was the conducting a children’s department in the Weekly Freeman (“Uncle Remus”) … Jacobite bards would have called her Rosaleen; Shakespeare would have set her side by side with Imogen.’ (pp.45-46.)

[Note that Kavanagh receives only passing mention in Foster’s Life of Yeats - Vol. I: “The Apprentice Mage” (OUP 1997) where he writes: ‘When he finally managed to get to Ireland in the summer of 1891, after constant postponements because of work on Blake, much had changed. Central members of his Dublin circle, like the poets Rose Kavanagh and Ellen O’Leary, had died; O’Leary was adrift and preoccupied; the nationalist movement was in chaotic disarray. [...]’

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Quotations

See “Poems of Rose Kavanagh”, from Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses, ed. Rev. Matthew Russell, S. J. (Dublin & Waterford: M. H. Gill 1909) [attached].

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Letter to Rev. Matthew Russell (q.d.): ‘It is not alone that I liked the corncrake; its song used to have a soothing effect on me. So had another very dissimilar thing - to drive very hard through a [6] bog on frosty moonlight [sic] night; and yet another thing which was strongest of all - to thin I should some day succeed in literature or art, and get rich enough to go to Italy and sail through Venice in a gondola. But I am not coming much speed on that road, since, instead of being away in London with all my armour on in the struggle for success, it is sitting here in the sunshine I am, nursing my littl old cough. Thanks be to God for the same sunshine, however. I believe, if it lasts some time longer, I shall be just as well as ever. I shall be just as well as ever. Such a good harvest time has not been for years, they say; nearly all the corn is stacked already, and then it is so dry! What a wonderful stillness there is among the hills in September! After all, September is a lovely month, too. I wish it had a poet as devoted as Denis Florence MacCarthy was to May. Perhaps you will tell me the meaning of the title “Underglimpses” in Mr. MacCarthy’s book. Does it mean glimpses under the surface of life, or nature, or what? But it must be nature, I think. I like his “Irish Emigrant’s Mother” greatly - it always brought the tears into my mother’s eyes. “The Foray of Con O’Donnell” always rises in my mind as the Foray of Dan O’Connell. Dublin ought to be pretty hot now, with the asphalt soft and springy under one’s feet. I miss the National Library a good bit, but one can’t have everything. And here I have my own people, and the sun, and the birds, and such landscape-pictures every day as make little of the best of painting.’ (Quoted, without date, in Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses, [ed.,] Rev. Matthew Russell, S.J., M. H. Gill 1909, pp.6-7.) Note that the corncrake mentioned here features in the poem “The Hillside To-day”, in her collection Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses, 1909, edited by Russell in 1909 [as attached].

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References
Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature (Washington: Catholic Univ. of America 1904), gives the “Northern Blackwater” [‘Many a ruin, both abbey and cot / Sees in your mirror a desolate lot’], with a footnote ref. to Dr. William Drennan’s poem “The Ford, Beal-an-atha-Buidhe”]; and “Lough Bray” [‘A little lonely moorland lake / Its waters brown and cool and deep / The cliff, the hills behind it make / A picture for my heart to keep’. Biog. [as above].

Cuttings: There is a notice of her death among the cuttings of the Linen Hall Library (Belfast). See also Irish Book Lover Vol. 1. See also the page on Kavanagh by Sarah Baker-Meehan on the Kavanagh Family website [online; accessed 3.07.2010.]

John Cooke, The Dublin Book of Irish Verse (Dublin: Hodges Figgis 1909), gives bio-dates, 1859-1891; “Lough Bray”; “St. Michan’s Churchyard” (‘Inside the city’s throbbing heart / One spot I know set well apart / From Life’s hard highway, Life’s loud mart’ - but no specific burials mentioned.

Ulster Libraries: Univ. of Ulster (Morris Collection) holds [Fr.] Matthew Russell, Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (1909).

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Notes
Merry England: The poem “April” which Kavanagh unsuccessfully submitted to Merry England (ed. Wilfred Meynell) is at variance with the other of that name which appears in Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses (1909). In noting the difference, Rev. Matthew Russell reprints the former 4-stanza version (op. cit., p.11-12.) Meynell observed that the metre was ‘not quite regular’ complaining of a shift from heroic to anapaestic, adding: ‘There is not quite enough really careful substance in the verses either’, but speaks of the writer as ‘capable of very good things.’ Russell remarks: ‘This might seem a sufficiently cordial recognition for an unknown Celtic maiden writing to wring from a Saxon editor at the first attempt; but, in fact, it thrust Rose Kavanagh [12] aside forever - she never made a second assault on that citadel, but confined herself to her beloved Dublin and Ireland.’ (pp.12-13.)

Deep heart’s core’: In her poem on “Gerald Griffin”, Rose Kavanagh wrote of the voice of Ireland calling him home from London: ’twas from her deep heart’s core / She called thee: “Gille Machree,” come home, I pray - / In my green lap of shamrocks sleep, asthore!’ [my itals.] (Rose Kavanagh and Her Verses, ed. Matthew Russell, S. J., Dublin: M. H. Gill 1909, p.40 [see attached].) The poem first appeared in The Irish Monthly, Vol. XIII (Nov. 1885), p.606 [see NLI link] - five years prior to Yeats’s composition of “Lake Isle of Innisfree” which he wrote in London in 1890, and which he called ‘my first lyric with anything of its rhythm of my own music’ while identifying its theme as ‘the hatred of London’ (Memoirs, ed. Denis Donoghue, Macmillan 1972, p.31, n.4). In it, he uses the phrases ‘in the deep hearts core’ - thus echoing Kavanagh rather than Shelley, whose phrase, ‘thy heart’s core’ (in Adonais) is annotated by A. N. Jeffares in his New Commentary on the Poems of W. B. Yeats, 1984.) All of this suggests that Yeats’s poem is something of a rewrite of the other, taking its theme and stripping it of both its biographical association with Gerald Griffin and with its nationalist associations. What remains, however, is the signature phrase itself, ‘deep heart’s core’ - which has gone down in literary memory as his invention. Noticeably, the ‘heart’ to which she refers is Ireland’s while that to which he refers is his own - or, rather, the heart of an idealised Irishman shorn of political animus and cast into a reverie of monastic retreat from both modernity and the strife of human (and especially gender) relations.

Warm hillside’: A slighter resemblance in theme and treatment can perhaps be detected in Yeats’s allusion to the ‘warm hillside’ in his poem “The Stolen Child”. Although there is no exact parallel to be drawn between her Land-League poem “The Hillside To-day” and his folkloric lyric on the theme of changelings [iarlais], there is an obvious similarity of tone in his treatment of the rural scene - a similarity which is ultimately assignable to their common origins in Kickham’s Knocknagow and Sally Cavanagh: The Untenanted Graves. (This, in turn, influences the “narrow grave” which invites the famine-victims in “The Unappeasable Host”.) Viewed from this standpoint, Yeats can be seen to profit from a body of nationalist sentiment which he is modifying for the purposes of a non-political poetry in which the elements of romanticism and transcendentalism, faery magic and anti-modernism, are positioned as the proper aesthetic good. Hence, in his praise of her, he wrote that her poetry was that of viol and flute rather than trumpets - meaning that she had withdrawn from the political stridency of so much of Irish poetry. (See Yeats’s remarks on Kavanagh, supra.) [BS - 04.07.2010.]

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