This is the Mangan poem that James Joyce best loved to recite. Indeed we find its titular apparition (in a context considerably less lugubrious than the original) in the “Circe” episode of the novel Ulysses ~
(A panel of fog rolls back rapidly, revealing rapidly in the jurybox the faces of Martin Cunningham, foreman, silkhatted, Jack Power, Simon Dedalus, Tom Kernan, Ned Lambert, John Henry Menton, Myles Crawford, Lenehan, Paddy Leonard, Nosey Flynn, McCoy, and the featureless face of a Nameless One.)
THE NAMELESS ONE: Bareback riding. Weight for age. Gob, he organised her.
THE JURORS: (All their heads turned to his voice) Really?
THE NAMELESS ONE: (Snarls) Arse over tip. Hundred shillings to five.
THE JURORS: (All their heads lowered in assent) Most of us thought as much.
Note in reading Clarence Mangan’s poem (“a painful autobiography,” says O’Donoghue) that to dree is to endure ; and that fellow poets Maginn and Burns were fond of the drop to sodden excess, it is sometimes said.
THE NAMELESS ONE.
God will inspire me while I deliver
My soul of thee !
Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening
Amid the last homes of youth and eld,
That there was once one whose veins ran lightning
No eye beheld.
Tell how his boyhood was one drear night-hour,
How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom,
No star of all heaven sends to light our
Path to the tomb.
Roll on, my song, and to after ages
Tell how, disdaining all earth can give,
He would have taught men, from wisdom’s pages,
The way to live.
And tell how trampled, derided, hated,
And worn by weakness, disease, and wrong,
He fled for shelter to God, who mated
His soul with song ;—
With song which alway, sublime or vapid,
Flowed like a rill in the morning-beam,
Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid,—
A mountain stream.
Tell how this Nameless, condemned for years long
To herd with demons from hell beneath,
Saw things that made him, with groans and tears, long
For even death.
Go on to tell how, with genius wasted,
Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love,
With spirit shipwrecked, and young hopes blasted,
He still, still strove,—
Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others,
And some whose hands should have wrought for him
(If children live not for sires and mothers,)
His mind grew dim,—
And he fell far through that pit abysmal,
The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns,
And pawned his soul for the devil’s dismal
Stock of returns ;—
But yet redeemed it in days of darkness,
And shapes and signs of the final wrath,
When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness,
Stood on his path.
And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow,
And want, and sickness, and houseless nights,
He bides in calmness the silent morrow,
That no ray lights.
And lives he still, then ? Yes ! Old and hoary
At thirty-nine, from despair and woe,
He lives enduring what future story
Will never know.
Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble,
Deep in your bosoms ! There let him dwell !
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble,
Here, and in hell.That sweeps along to the mighty sea ;