By A. Norman Jeffares (auth.)
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Extra info for Anglo-Irish Literature
He was not concerned to create personal renown so much as to lay a good foundation for the work of others by generously and energetically building up the library of the college. He made several visits to England, became friendly with the other great book collectors of the time, Camden, Selden, Cotton and Bodley, and even employed a clergyman, Thomas David, to buy books in Aleppo for the college . He is best known - by the superficial - . for his affirmation that 4,004 years elapsed from the Creation to the birth of Christ; it is perhaps as well to offset this by remembering Gibbon's tribute to Ussher's 'copious statement' in Ecclesiastical Antiques of the British Churches (1639) 'of all that learning could extract from the rubbish of the dark ages'.
All this popularity was dec idedly ironic in view of his ambivalent attitude to Ireland. Swift was ahead of his age in his fastidiousness and awareness of hygiene - and the lack of it around him. His cloacal poems, which so shocked Victorian taste and still surprise many modem readers, express his fascinated horror of filth. He probably tried to exorcise this disgust by facing it and writing about it , and hence the bedroom poems (for instance, 'The Lady's Dressing Room', 'A Beautiful Young Nymph Going to Bed' or 'Strephon and Chloe', which parody the falsities of love poetry), as well as that excellent poem on a London street, the 'Description of a City Shower', and many others in a similarly realistic vein.
Wentworth Dillon, fourth earl of Roscommon (1633-84), wrote poems, but is known for his Essay on Translated Verse (1684). All four were writing in the current classical English fashion, as were those writers listed in E. R. McClintock Dix's Catalogue of Early Printed Dublin Books 1600-1700 (1898-1912) as authors of panegyrics, odes, elegies, poems of welcome on Arrivals and good wishes for Departures. What could be a more English poem than Cooper's Hill (1642)? But Cooper's Hill is four miles from Limerick, and the poet, Sir John Denham (1615-69), was born in Ireland, of English and Irish stock.
Anglo-Irish Literature by A. Norman Jeffares (auth.)