Edited and introduced by Gregory A.Schirmer
Despite the relatively slender volume of his work and the obscurity that marked his brief life – he was known to his friends as ‘the Recluse’ – the Cork poet J. J. Callanan (1795-1829) has come to be recognised as one of the most significant Irish poets writing before Yeats. Inspired equally by English romanticism and Ireland’s Gaelic culture, and drawing often on the life of Irish-speaking communities in West Cork, Callanan’s work negotiates with remarkable effect between Ireland’s two principal traditions, while giving voice to many of the cultural forces that were shaping Irish life in the early years of the nineteenth century.
Callanan’s poetry has been out of print since 1883. The present selection brings together all his poems having to do with Ireland, including those for which he is best known – his poetic translations from the Irish, lyrics such as ‘Gougane Barra,’ and his long autobiographical poem, ‘The Recluse of Inchidony’. The poems are fully annotated, and original sources for the translations, where known, are given. The introduction provides a detailed account of Callanan’s life, drawing in part on private letters and diaries, as well as a critical assessment of his poetry. There is also an extensive bibliography that includes a listing of all critical writings about Callanan.
Gregory A. Schirmer divides his time between Oxford, Mississippi, where he is Professor of English at the University of Mississippi, and Skibbereen, West Cork. His publications include The Poetry of Austin Clarke (1983), William Trevor. A Study of His Fiction (1990), (editor) Reviews and Essays of Austin Clarke (1995), which includes a massive checklist of Clarke’s periodical writings, and Out of What Began: A History of Irish Poetry in English (1998).More info →