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Songs without Sunrise: Irish Victorian Poetry and the Risorgimento

Frederik Van Dam


While the Risorgimento had a profound impact on the shape of English literature, this geopolitical crisis did not leave a similar imprint on Irish literature. Historical circumstances can explain why the nineteenth-century struggle for the unification of Italy did not lead to rapprochement between Italy and Ireland: support for the Italian cause put Irish nationalists in opposition with Catholic interests at home, while in the eyes of Italian nationalists the Irish question weakened the function of Britain as a liberalising power. Even so, a few Irish poets did address the Risorgimento. This article shows how poems by Thomas Davis, James Clarence Mangan, Jane Francesca Elgee, and Aubrey de Vere express a variety of positions (isolationism, catastrophism, liberalism, realism) that are informed by a complex constellation of geopolitical factors. By means of a series of close readings, the present inquiry aims to shed new light on the geopolitical form of Irish poetry in the Victorian age.


geopolitics; Ireland; nationalism; poetry; Risorgimento.

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DOI: https://doi.org/10.7358/lcm-2022-001-vand

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