Dora Sigerson Shorter

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Life
1866-1918 [err. 1925]; b. Dublin; eldest dg. of 4 children to George Sigerson and former Hester Varian; friend of Katharine Tynan and Alice Furlong; Irish literary revival poet; contrib. Irish Monthly form 1888, and to the Samhain in 1902; m. Clement Shorter, critic and ed. of The Sphere [var. Illustrated London News], July 1895; lived in London thereafter; friend of Alice Furlong, and Katherine Tynan (who wrote in a biographical sketch that she ‘died of a broken heart’ after 1916 executions; she drew the frontispiece portrait of Mangan for Louise Imogen Guiney’s selection of his poems (1897); her husband introduced a selection of the poems of Lionel Johnson in 1908 and signed "Great Missenden, Buck[ingham]s[hire]. PI JMC IF DIW DIL SUTH FDA OCIL

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Works
  • Verses London: Elliot Stock 1893), 134pp. [infra];
  • The Fairy Changeling and Other Poems (London & NY: J Lane 1897), and Do. [another edn.] (1898);
  • My Lady’s Slipper and Other Poems (London 1898);
  • Ballads and Poems (London: J Bowden 1899);
  • The Father Confessor, Stories of Danger and Death (London: Ward, Lock 1900);
  • As the Sparks Fly Upward (London: Alex. Moring, De La More Press [1202]);
  • The Woman Who Went to Hell, and Other Ballads and Lyrics (London: De La More Press [1902];
  • The Country House Party (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1905);
  • The Story and Song of Black Roderick (London: Alex. Moring 1906);
  • Through Wintry Terrors (London: Cassell 1907);
  • Collected Poems, Intro. George Meredith (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1907);
  • The Troubadour and other poems (London: Hodder & Stoughton 1910);
  • New Poems (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Roberts 1912), 3rd ed. (1921);
  • Do-Well and Do-Little (Cassell [1913]);
  • Madge Linsey and Other Poems (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Co. 1913); Do. [another edn.] (1916);
  • Love of Ireland, Poems and Ballads (Dublin & London: Maunsel 1916), and Do. [another edn.], with ‘Poems of the Irish Rebellion, 1916’ (priv. printed 1916), and Do. [another edn.] (1921);
  • Comfort the Women, a Prayer in Time of War (priv. [1915]);
  • An Old Proverb ... It will be the Same in a Thousand Years (London 1916);
  • The Sad Years and Other Poems, with port. and memoir by Katharine Tynan (London: Constable 1918), and Do. [another edn.] (priv. 1918), , ill.;
  • Sixteen Dead Men and Other Poems of Easter Week (NY: Mitchell Kennerley 1919) [being the US version of The Tricolour, as infra, with short prose parable added as introduction];
  • A Legend of Glendalough and Other Sketches (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Roberts 1919), and Do. [another edn.] (1921);
  • A Dull Day in London, and Other Sketches (London: Eveleigh Nash 1920);
  • The Tricolour, Poems of the Revolution, with port. and photo of the monument she sculpted for Easter Rising martyrs (Maunsel & Roberts 1922), and Do. [new edn.,] revised [by] Dan Barry, with poems added from other vols. and memoir by Katharine Tynan from The Sad Years (Cork: CFN [1926]);
  • Twenty-one Poems (London: Ernest Benn [1926]);
  • The Augustan Books of Modern Poetry: Dora Sigerson Shorter (London: Ernest Benn).
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Bibliographical details
The Tricolour, Poems of the Irish Revolution (Dublin: Maunsel & Roberts 1922), 72pp. [posthumous], which incl. eight poems from The Sad Years, viz., “The Tricolour” [see extract]; “The Sacred Fire”; “Corruption”; “Sick I Am and Sorrowful”; “In the Years of Sarsfield”; “A Catholic to his Ulster Brother”; “The Wreath, Easter 1917”; “The Prisoner”; “Ourselves Alone”; “The Dead Soldier, in Memory of Thomas Ashe” [‘My soul is crying for a dead soldier’]; “The Star - in Memory of Patrick Pearse”, and “The Tree Uprooted - in memory of Roger Casement”.

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Criticism
Katherine Tynan, ‘Dora Sigerson, a tribute and some memories, by Katharine Tynan', in Dora Sigerson Shorter, The Sad Years (London: Constable & Co. 1921), pp.vii-xii.

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Commentary
W. P. Ryan, The Irish Literary Revival (1894), Dora Sigerson, her verses is an unequal book, with fibre, philosophy, fretful introspect, storm-and-doubt unrest, and much which is plainly poetry. Moods not common with the Irish muse are represented, also moods which are common, though Miss Sigerson does not make then as poetical as the others ... her sister [&c, 148].

Katie Donovan, in Irish Times (10 Sept. 1995), reviews Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, ed., Voices on the Wind, Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (New Island Books 1995) noting remarks in introductory essay on Shorter’s knowledge of ‘traditional lore’ as being exceptional among the literary revival female poets of her generation; reviewer cites the poems “The Fairy Changeling” and “The White Witch”.

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Quotations
Verses (1893): “Con Duv Deelish” [2nd stanza: ‘Cean Duv Deelish, I cry to thee / Beyond the word / Beyond the sea, / Thou being dead. / Where has thou hidden from the beat / Of crushing hooves and tearing feet / Thy dear black head?’, and ending, ‘I loved thee too well for this to be.’] “King and Father” [‘Lord of the Universe, Marker of all! / ... Endless thy Glory, O king of all kings / ... When the sun in his horror, recoiled at the sight / ... O Crucified Lord upon Calvary Hill!’ / ... Ready to hear when we kneel on the sod / Thou our Redeemer, or Father, or God!’] “Footsteps” [‘in every man this world doth hold / Two selves are cast in that human mould. / If he harken but to the voice of one / Then heaven us his when his work is done; / But if to the other his ear doth turn, / Deeper in his heart shall ever burn ...’].

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The Tricolour” is a short prose piece: ‘[...] A wounded prisoner of war by the name of James Connolly was slain. So labour was shot down because it dared to be discontented with its fortunes. And idealism was shot down because it dared to dream greater dreams than were allowed to small nationalities ... On Easter Monday Sheehy Skeffington, the pacifist, was murdered secretly without trial / Thus Peace was shot down by a lunatic, because he got in the way of militarism’.

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References
D. J. O’Donoghue, The Poets of Ireland: A Biographical Dictionary (Dublin: Hodges Figgis & Co 1912); O’Donoghue speaks respectfully of her as a contemporary writer.

Justin McCarthy, gen. ed., Irish Literature, ed. (Washington: University of America 1904); gives 5 poems incl. ‘Cean Duv Deelish’.

Stephen Brown, Ireland in Fiction (Dublin: Maunsel 1919), married to ed. of The Sphere, C. K. Shorter; verse incl. ‘Do Little and Do Well’, a fairy tale; ‘The Country House Party’; d. 1918; lists fiction, The Father Confessor, stories of death and danger (1900); Herself; Hatchways; Jamesie (1918).

Seamus Deane, gen. ed., The Field Day Anthology of Irish Writing (Derry: Field Day 1991), Vol. 2, p. 779, George Sigerson biog., ‘dg. became well-known poet’.

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John Sutherland, The Longman Companion to Victorian Fiction (Harlow: Longmans 1988); 1866-1918, b. Dublin; dg. George Sigerson, Irish surgeon and man of letters; m. C. K. Shorter, English critic and journalist, attracted to her by a photo in the London papers; as Mrs Shorter, she wrote gloomy stories collected as The Father Confessor (1900); her m. Hester wrote the similarly gloomy novel, A Ruined Place, or the Last Macmanus of Dramroosh (1890) [cited parenthetically in short form under Dora Sigerson Shorter, in DIL]. BL 2.

Arthur Quiller Couch, ed., Oxford Book of English Verse, 1250-1918 (new ed. 1929), 864; also anthologised in Brooke/Rolleston (1900); Brown; Cooke; Fitzhenry; Graves; Hoagland; Robinson, Sharp/Mathay [Lyra Celtica]; Tynan, and Yeats. Also in Robert Lynd, ed., ‘Voices of the New Ireland’, Ireland a Nation (1919).

Eilís Ní Dhuibhne, Voices on the Wind, Women Poets of the Celtic Twilight (New Island Books 1995) [with Katharine Tynan; Eva Gore-Booth; Susan Mitchell; Nora Chesson Hopper; Ethna Carbery].

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Belfast Public Library holds A Legend of Glendalough (1919); also Glendalough and other Ballads (1921); Madge Lindsay and other poems (1913) [15 poems], 42pp.; New Poems (1912); Poems (n.d.); The Tricolour (1922); The Troubadour (1922); Do., and other poems (1910); Verses (1893). Also, under Sigerson, D., Ballads and Poems (1899); The Collected Poems (1907); Dull Day in London (1920); The Fairy-Changeling and other poems (1898); The Sad Years (1919); Story and Son of Black Roderick (1906); Ancient Irish Poems on Howth (1917); also, The Woman Who Went to Hell (London: De la More [title page sic] Press [n.d.]), 42pp.

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Kennys Books (Cat. 2004) lists New poems. [3d edn.] (Dublin: Maunsel 1921), 41pp.; The tricolour; Poems of the Irish Revolution (Dublin: Maunsel & Roberts 1922), 71, [1]pp. front. (port.), pl., Do. [another edn.] (Cork: C.F.N. 1976), 48pp.: ill., ports.; New Poems (Dublin: Maunsel 1912), 41pp., and Do [ 2nd edn.] (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Co., 1913), 41pp. [Inscribed by Thomas Bodkin] ; A legend of Glendalough, and other ballads (Dublin & London: Maunsel & Co. 1919), 40pp. [ The deer-stone, a legend of Glendalough; The woman who went to hell, an Irish legend; Kathleen's charity; The white witch; The fetch; The ballad of the little black hound; The priest's brother]; The sad years (London: Constable & Co. 1921), xv, 86pp., [9] leaves of plates: ill. [‘Dora Sigerson, a tribute and some memories, by Katharine Tynan', pp.vii-xii]; As the sparks fly upward: poems and ballads ( London: A. Moring [190-?]), 34pp.; The story and song of Black Roderick (London: De La More Press 1906), 82pp.; Verses (London: Elliot Stock 1893), 134pp.

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Notes
Mebdh McGuckian, ‘The Timely Clapper’, short contrib. in ‘The State of Poetry’, special issue of Krino, ed., Gerald Dawe and Jonathan Williams (Winter 1993), pp.45-46, quotes extensively a review of Dora Shorter by George Meredith in 1907 in which he remarks on ‘the timely clapper’ of common verse in the course of praising her mastery of false rhyme.

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