Verse > Anthologies > James and Mary Ford, eds. > Every Day in the Year
James and Mary Ford, eds.  Every Day in the Year.  1902.
June 20
The Nameless One
By James Clarence Mangan (1803–1849)
          James Clarence Mangan was one of the most gifted of Ireland’s poets. He was eccentric in manner and early in life contracted a fatal passion for drink. After a life of many vicissitudes be died in a hospital on June 20th, 1849—some say from cholera and others from starvation.

ROLL forth, my song, like the rushing river
  That sweeps along to the mighty sea;
God will inspire me while I deliver
        My soul to thee!
Tell thou the world, when my bones lie whitening        5
  Amid the last homes of youth and eld,
That there once was one whose veins ran lightning
        No eye beheld.
Tell how his boyhood was one drear night-hour,
  How shone for him, through his griefs and gloom,        10
No star of all heaven sends to light our
        Path to the tomb.
Roll on, my song, and to after ages
  Tell how, disdaining all earth can give,
He would have taught men from wisdom’s pages        15
        The way to live.
And tell how trampled, derided, hated,
  And worn by weakness, disease and wrong,
He fled for shelter to God, who mated
        His soul with song—        20
With song which alway, sublime or vapid,
  Flowed like a rill in the morning beam,
Perchance not deep, but intense and rapid—
        A mountain stream.
Tell how the Nameless, condemned for years long        25
  To herd with demons from hell beneath,
Saw things that made him, with groans and tears, long
        For even death.
Go on to tell how, with genius wasted,
  Betrayed in friendship, befooled in love,        30
With spirit shipwrecked, and young hopes blasted
        He still, still strove.
Till, spent with toil, dreeing death for others,
  And some whose hands should have wrought for him
(If children live not for sires and mothers),        35
        His mind grew dim.
And he fell far through that pit abysmal,
  The gulf and grave of Maginn and Burns,
And pawned his soul for the devil’s dismal
        Stock of returns.        40
But yet redeemed it in days of darkness,
  And shapes and signs of the final wrath,
When death, in hideous and ghastly starkness,
        Stood in his path.
And tell how now, amid wreck and sorrow,        45
  And want, and sickness, and houseless nights,
He bides in calmness the silent morrow
        That no ray lights.
And lives he still then? Yes! Old and hoary
  At thirty-nine, from despair and woe,        50
He lives, enduring what future story
        Will never know.
Him grant a grave to, ye pitying noble,
  Deep in your bosoms! There let him dwell!
He, too, had tears for all souls in trouble,        55
        Here and in hell.

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