A life of Shane MacGowan, whose lyric gift was touched by Clarence Mangan’s poetic influence and abiding presence.
PLUS Ai Weiwei (posted October 7), 'Cello funnies (October 5), & more music added to Mistrovská polka (September 18)
Once upon a tea-party, the Mad Hatter quizzed Alice with the notorious riddle, "Why is a raven like a writing-desk?" Young Alice's host may never have been satisfied with an answer, but the blind alley of logic that Lewis Carroll created in Wonderland hasn't stopped the world from trying to solve it in the century and a half since then. Solutions have ranged ~
from the succinct : "Because Poe wrote on both" (Sam Loyd)
and the anarchically symmetrical : "Because one has flapping fits and the other has fitting flaps" (P. Veale)
to counter-nonsensical retorts : "Because there is a b in both, and because there is an n in neither" (Aldous Huxley)
and the downright cryptic ignotum per ignotius : "It can be found in a class with a Writing Master" (Fernando J. Soto).
The "Writing Master" is another name for the bird called the Yellowhammer or Yellow Bunting, whose eggs have the natural appearance of being inkily stained and scribbled upon. The taxonomical "class" is Aves.
More solutions to the riddle at
There looms through these pages a worthy wraith named MANGAN (first syllable stressed, the 'g' hard and voiced, not as in standard 'sing', 'sang', 'sung').
To any reader who is receptive to it, much may be vouchsafed that is strangely rewarding, and oddly familiar for style, in the poems of James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849). This Victorian bard of Ireland is known in his native country for only a couple of poems, "Dark Rosaleen", an allegorical Nationalist ballad, translated from the Gaelic, which is often assigned to schoolchildren for memorising, and "A Vision of Connaught in the Thirteenth Century", an original poem in the bard-seer's mode of the aisling genre. Clarence Mangan is otherwise quite neglected, even though he has deeply and directly inspired some rather famous writers who acknowledged their debt, among them W. B. Yeats, James Joyce and Shane MacGowan (of Pogues fame).
Mangan's verses have been compared (favourably and not) with those of Coleridge, Keats, Shelley, Byron and Poe.
A parrot's curt complaint ("Lamii's Apology For His Nonsense"), a philosophic "Ottoman" discourse in the sand from Freiligrath's Wüstenpoesie ("My Themes"), and a pastoral idyll translating Rückert ("Nature More Than Science") : these are but a few works of the elusive Hibernian that are currently seen in this paper.