Books,  Findings,  Writings

Poet Joseph Campbell

Poetry has been on my mind again lately, as I’m reviving my hope to publish an anthology. The creative juices have been flowing. I just need to go through the piles of poems I’ve written over the years, take the decent ones, edit and Joseph Campbellcompile. Easier said than done, of course!

In the spirit of poetry, this week’s Friday Finding is a little known Irish poet — Joseph Campbell.

Nationalist and Poet

Joseph Campbell first came to my attention in a tweet by Interesting Literature.

Campbell was born in July 1879 in Belfast. He took an interest in Irish folklore at a young age and assisted the composer Herbert Hughes in producing English version of Irish folksongs, according to the Dictionary of Ulster Biography.

During the Easter Rising of 1916, Campbell participated as an Intelligence Officer. He eventually joined Sinn Fein and was interned by the Free State Forces during the Irish Civil War. Campbell’s Irish nationalism can be seen in his commitment to writing poetry in Gaelic under his Irish name, Seosamh MacCathmhaoil or Seosamh MacCathmhaoil.

Campbell emigrated to the United States in 1925 where he resided in New York for about fourteen years. While in New York, Campbell taught at Fordham University and established the first School of Irish Studies.

Joseph Campbell died in Ireland in June 1944.

Campbell’s work

For anyone interested in reading more of Campbell’s work, Project Gutenberg offers a download of Mearing Stones and The Mountainy Singer. Mearing Stones was originally published in 1911 and The Mountainy Singer in 1909.

Joseph Campbell
© Copyright Albert Bridge and licensed for reuse under Creative Commons License.

The Irish Fairies (published in the Nov. 1913 Poetry Magazine, p. 49)

When Eber came to Kerry,
When Guaire gave his gold,
Then were we young and merry
Who now are old.

The green and the gray places,
Then were they green and gray:
We saw but shining faces
And open day.

We saw but shining faces,
The sickle moon of night,
White queens in royal places,
And jewels bright.

We heard but beauty spoken,
Red war and passion sung,
Music on harp-strings broken,
When we were young.

What is the morning plougher
To us, whose ancient dream
Is as a fallen flower
Upon a stream?


I See All Love in Lowly Things (published in The Mountainy Singer)

I see all love in lowly things,
No less than in the lusts of kings:
All beauty, shape and comeliness,
All valour, strength and gentleness,
All genius, wit and holiness.

Out of corruption comes the flower,
The corn is kindred with the clay;
The plough-hand is a hand of power,
Nobler than gold, brighter than day.

Then let the leper lift his head,
The cripple dance, the captive sing,
The beggar reap and eat his bread —
He is no baser than a king!

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