Saturday 3 December 2016

The Sunday Poem: Anthony Cronin's personal anthology

Published 29/02/2016 | 02:30

Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin
Anthony Cronin. Photo by Tony Gavin

Gerald Griffin was best known as a novelist. He was the author of The Collegians, based on a true murder story, which has had a long, varied and successful career as a play by Dion Bouccicault (The Colleen Bawn) and as an opera.

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He also wrote songs, of which Eileen Aroon, translated and adapted from an Irish original, is by far the most often sung.

Born in Limerick in 1803, he worked on his uncle's newspaper, reporting for it on the trial of John Scanlon for the murder of the Colleen Bawn.

But he had greater literary ambitions and set off for London armed with a play which he hoped would change the course of English drama. One of his plays was indeed a success but it was, alas, posthumously.

Stricken with moral scruples about writing he gave it up, burned his manuscripts and became a Christian Brother, where he died at the age of 37.

from Eileen Aroon

Gerald Griffin

When, like the rising day,

Eileen Aroon!

Love sends his early ray,

Eileen Aroon!

What makes his dawning glow

Changeless through joy or woe?

Only the constant know,

Eileen Aroon!

Who in the song so sweet ?

Eileen Aroon!

Who in the dance so neat?

Eileen Aroon!

Dear were her charms to me,

Dearer her laughter free,

Dearest her constancy,

Eileen Aroon!

Youth must with time decay,

Eileen Aroon!

Beauty must fade away,

Eileen Aroon!

Castles are sacked in war,

Chieftains are scattered far,

Truth is a fixed star,

Eileen Aroon!

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