Homage to Hieronymus Bosch
by Thomas MacGreevy
Edited by Susan SchreibmanOriginal Source:
Diplomatic editions of MacGreevy's poetry were created from Collected Poems of Thomas MacGreevy: An Annotated Edition, edited by Susan Schreibman (Anna Livia Press and The Catholic University of America Press, 1991). Images of MacGreevy's published poems were taken from MacGreevy's own copy of Poems (Heinemann, 1934). Manuscript copies are from MacGreevy's papers at Trinity College, Dublin (individual manuscript numbers appear in the Witness Details below).Witness a1: Draft version (TCD MS 7989/1/24). ()
Witness pub: The image of the published version of 'Homage to Hieronymus Bosch' is taken from MacGreevy's own copy of Poems published in 1934. () () ()
There are four TS drafts of the poem entitled 'Bosch' and 'Dance of Life'. The earliest reference to the poem is in October 1926. This poem was originally published in transition 21 (March 1932) 178-9, with the title 'Treason of Saint Laurence O'Toole b Saint Laurence O'Toole was the archbishop of Dublin from 1162 to 1180. His brother-in-law, King Diarmuid of Leinster, brought the invading Normans to Ireland. O'Toole unsuccessfully attempted to negotiate peace with the invaders during the siege of Dublin in 1170. During his term as archbishop, All Hallows Priory (the site of Trinity College) was established. ', and the epigraph 'for Alexander Andreyevitch Balascheff'. It has been reprinted in One Thousand Years of Irish Poetry (1947) 704; The Lace Curtain 4 (Summer 1971) 37; The Faber Book of Irish Verse (1974) 259; Surrealist Poetry in English (1979) 76; and Poets of Munster (1985) 31.
In 1924 MacGreevy took his first trip to Spain. At the Prado he discovered the 'masterpieces of grotesquerie' of Hieronymus Bosch. While Bosch's paintings supplied the imagery for the poem, it was an incident during MacGreevy's days at Trinity College, Dublin, that provided the inspiration. In a letter to M.E. Barber, the general secretary of the Society of Authors, MacGreevy explains:
You will see that the Homage to Bosch title was chiefly a warning to the reader to expect images that were not exactly Parnassian. When I was a student a number of us, 17 in all I think, who were ex-British officers asked the Provost of Trinity College, Dublin to send an appeal on our behalf for the reprieve of a student of the National University who was captured in an ambush and condemned to be hanged. It was believed he had been tortured by the Black and Tans and our appeal was that he be reprieved only long enough for it to be verified that he had British justice and not torture. Only two or three of the signatories were nationalists. But the Provost refused to have anything to do with the appeal and Kevin Barry was hanged. We were the inhabitants of the nursery in the poem. John Bernard the nursery governor, etc. The well of Saint Patrick is in the grounds of Trinity College, Dublin which used before the Reformation or up to Elizabethan times to be the Abbey of All Hallows.(29) That is the kernel of the poem but the spirit of Ireland, powerful and powerless, shabby and inspiring and a dozen other things is knocking about the whole time.
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Electronic Edition Information
Markup by Lara Vetter.
Annotations by Susan Schreibman
Published by Susan Schreibman
Maryland Institute for Technology in the Humanities (MITH), University of Maryland, College Park, MD 20742
Thomas MacGreevy's poetry is reprinted here with the kind permission of Margaret Farrington and Elizabeth Ryan. Permission to reproduce images of Thomas MacGreevy's manuscripts has been generously granted by The Board of Trinity College Dublin.
This poem and manuscript drafts are available from this site for demonstration purposes only. They may not be reproduced without explicit permission from the copyright holder. For copyright information, please contact Susan Schreibman at email@example.com