Young Ireland and the Superannuated Bard: Rewriting Thomas Moore in The Nation

Benatti, Francesca (2019). Young Ireland and the Superannuated Bard: Rewriting Thomas Moore in The Nation. In: McCleave, Sarah and O'Hanlon, Triona eds. The Reputations of Thomas Moore: Poetry, Music, and Politics. Poetry and Song in the Age of Revolution. New York and London: Routledge, pp. 214–234.



This chapter examines how the journalists of the Young Ireland movement, such as Thomas Davis and Charles Gavan Duffy, engaged in a complex reassessment of the pre-eminence of Moore’s works, especially the Irish Melodies, within Irish literature. The views of other Nation reviewers such as Michael Barry, Denis MacCarthy and Thomas D’Arcy McGee are also evaluated and contextualised. This chapter analyses the three main conduits this network employed: articles in the Nation newspaper, literary anthologies in the Library of Ireland book series and finally the two editions of the Spirit of the Nation poetry anthology (1843 and 1845). It compares the poetry of the Nation and of Thomas Davis with Moore’s Melodies, in order to assess whether Davis and the Nation poets departed radically from the vocabulary of Moore’s patriotic poetry. It also reviews critiques of Moore’s publishing choices. The partial retraction of earlier criticisms of Moore following Davis’s death in 1845 will also be studied. Ultimately, the Nation characterized Moore’s works as no longer representative of the spirit of the Irish nation, and promoted the creation of a new school of poetry.

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