Biography of Edward Dowden
Edward Dowden was born in Cork, County Cork, Ireland.
Irish critic, biographer, and poet, noted for his critical work on Shakespeare.
Educated at Queen's College, Cork, and Trinity College, Dublin, Dowden became professor of English literature at Trinity in 1867 and lectured at Oxford (1890-93) and Cambridge (1893-96).
His Shakespeare: A Critical Study of His Mind and Art (1875) was the first book in English to attempt a unified and rounded picture of Shakespeare's development as an artist, studying him in terms of successive periods. His other works on Shakespeare include the primer Shakspere (1877), which was written for a nonacademic audience, and several edited collections of sonnets. He also provided the text to accompany the illustrations in Shakespeare Scenes and Characters (1876).
His wide interests and scholarly methods made his influence on criticism both sound and stimulating, and his own ideals are well described in his essay on The Interpretation of Literature in his Transcripts and Studies. As commissioner of education in Ireland (1896–1901), trustee of the National Library of Ireland, secretary of the Irish Liberal Union and vice-president of the Irish Unionist Alliance, he enforced his view that literature should not be divorced from practical life. His biographical/critical concepts, particularly in connection with Shakespeare, are played with by Stephen Dedalus in the library chapter of James Joyce's Ulysses. Leslie Fiedler was to play with them again in The Stranger in Shakespeare.
Dowden married twice, first (1866) Mary Clerke, and secondly (1895) Elizabeth Dickinson West, daughter of the dean of St Patrick's. His daughter, Hester Dowden, was a well-known spiritualist medium
Edward Dowden's Works:
Shakespeare : a critical study of his mind and art (1875)
Shakespeare Primer (1877)
The life of Percy Bysshe Shelley (1886)
Introduction to Shakespeare (1893)
A History of French Literature (1897)
The French revolution and English literature; lectures delivered in connection with the sesquicentennial celebration of Princeton university (1897)
New studies in literature (1902)
Robert Browning (1904)
Michel de Montaigne (1905)
Studies in literature, 1789-1877 (1909)
Essays modern and Elizabethan (1910)
Puritan and Anglican; studies in literature (1910)
Transcripts and studies (1910)
A woman's reliquary (1913)
Letters of Edward Dowden and his correspondents (1914)
Fragments from old letters, - E.D. to E.D.W., 1869-1892 (1914) in 2 vols. v.1 v.2
The Life Of Robert Browning (1915)
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Edward Dowden Poems
My long first year of perfect love, My deep new dream of joy; She was a little chubby girl, I was a chubby boy.
In The Garden I: The Garden
PAST the town's clamour is a garden full Of loneness and old greenery; at noon When birds are hush'd, save one dim cushat's croon, A ripen'd silence hangs beneath the cool
UNDER the flaming wings of cherubim I moved toward that high altar. O, the hour! And the light waxed intenser, and the dim Low edges of the hills and the grey sea
A New Hymn for Solitude
I found Thee in my heart, O Lord, As in some secret shrine; I knelt, I waited for Thy word, I joyed to name Thee mine.
WHY do I make no poems? Good my friend Now is there silence through the summer woods, In whose green depths and lawny solitudes The light is dreaming; voicings clear ascend
In The Cathedral
THE altar-lights burn low, the incense-fume Sickens: O listen, how the priestly prayer Runs as a fenland stream; a dim despair Hails through their chaunt of praise, who here inhume
Leonardo's 'Monna Lisa'
MAKE thyself known, Sibyl, or let despair Of knowing thee be absolute; I wait Hour-long and waste a soul. What word of fate Hides 'twixt the lips which smile and still forbear?
In The Garden VII: Early Autumn
IF while I sit flatter'd by this warm sun Death came to me, and kiss'd my mouth and brow, And eyelids which the warm light hovers through, I should not count it strange. Being half won
The Secret of the Universe
AN ODE (By a Western Spinning Dervish)
In The Garden III: An Interior
THE grass around my limbs is deep and sweet; Yonder the house has lost its shadow wholly, The blinds are dropped, and softly now and slowly The day flows in and floats; a calm retreat
THE bow of promise, this lost flaring star, Terror and hope are in mid-heaven; but She, The mighty-wing'd crown'd Lady Melancholy, Heeds not. O to what vision'd goal afar
SINCE Thou dost clothe Thyself to-day in cloud, Lord God in heaven, and no voice low or loud Proclaims Thee,--see, I turn me to the Earth, Its wisdom and its sorrow and its mirth,
In The Garden VI: A Peach
IF any sense in mortal dust remains When mine has been refin'd from flower to flower, Won from the sun all colours, drunk the shower And delicate winy dews, and gain'd the gains
In the Cathedral Close
IN the Dean's porch a nest of clay With five small tentants may be seen; Five solemn faces, each as wise As if its owner were a Dean.
Lord, I have knelt and tried to pray to-night,
But Thy love came upon me like a sleep,
And all desire died out; upon the deep
Of Thy mere love I lay, each thought in light
Dissolving like the sunset clouds, at rest
Each tremulous wish, and my strength weakness, sweet
As a sick boy with soon o’erwearied feet
Finds, yielding him unto his mother’s breast
To weep for weakness there. I could not pray,