Ellen Mary Clerke: Irish Woman Poet

Ellen Mary Clerkeplaque (1840-1906) was born in Skibbereen and died in London. Her sister Agnes Mary was a leading astronomer and non-fiction author, and Ellen Mary was a polymath herself, writing popular science titles, poetry, translations from the Italian, and articles in German and Arabic. A devout Catholic, ‘THE BUILDING AND PINNACLE OF THE TEMPLE’ was published in 1902 in Carmina Mariana; an English anthology in verse in honour of or in relation to the Blessed Virgin Mary edited by Orby Shipley.

Not made with hands, its walls began to climb

From roots in Life’s foundations deeply set,

Far down amid primeval forms, where yet

Creation’s Finger seemed to grope in slime.
Yet not in vain passed those first-born of Time,

Since each some presage gave of structure met

In higher types, lest these the bond forget

That links Earth’s latest to the fore-world’s prime.

And living stone on living stone was laid,

In scale ascending ever, grade on grade,

To that which in its Maker’s eyes seemed good —

The Human Form : and in that shrine of thought,

By the long travail of the ages wrought,

The Temple of the Incarnation stood.
Through all the ages since the primal ray,

Herald of life, first smote the abysmal night

Of elemental Chaos, and the might

Of the Creative Spark informed the clay,
From worm to brute, from brute to man — its way

The Shaping Thought took upward, flight on flight.

By stages which Earth’s loftiest unite

Unto her least, made kin to such as they.

As living link, or prophecy, or type

Of purpose for fulfilment yet unripe,

Each has its niche in the supreme design ;

Converging to one Pinnacle, whereat

Sole stands Creation’s Masterpiece — and that

Which was through her — the Human made Divine.

Emma Maria De Burgh: Irish Woman Poet

Emma Maria De Burgh (Died 21 September, 1851) was born Emma Maria Hunt, possibly in or around Newbridge, Kildare and died in Dublin. Her posthumous volume The voice of many waters, a selection from the compositions in prose and verse of E.M. De Burgh was edited by her sister Caroline Hunt and printed privately in London in 1858.

Air — Aptoun.
Go, where Cader Idris towers,

Spent volcano, to the sky;

Go and search her sides for flowers,

Cull them ere they fade and die;

Where the lava once was flowing,

Others grope, but why should I?

Fairer far the wild heath ‘s glowing,

Aloes scarce, and harebells shy.

Wandering ‘mid the hazel bowers

Which her beauteous base adorn,

Go, and bless the vernal showers

Which have bade those bowers be born.

Rustic fruit-trees dpwnward bending,

Welcome on this sultry morn,

Yield their sweets; but with them blending,

As in life, there grows a thorn.

Hannah L. Harvey: Irish Woman Poet

Hannah L Harvey was born in Waterford in 1854. A Quaker, she resigned her membership of the Society, presumably to pursue her interests in Nationalist and Suffragette politics. This poem was included in Evelyn Noble Armatige’s 1896 anthology The Quaker Poets of Great Britain and Ireland when Harvey was still alive.

The Jungfrau
About thy feet, O fair and awful maiden,

The thunders roll,

And sombre clouds, with shooting death-fires laden,

Appall the soul.

Giants with giants round thee are contending,

With mighty throes,

As though the tumult of their wrath, ascending,

Could shake thy snows.

Veiled in a robe of misty vapours streaming,

A stately queen,

Beyond the clouds thy snowy peaks are gleaming,

Unmoved, serene.

Awful as death, and glorious as a vision,

Once more they rise,

And smiling forth celestial derision,

Salute the skies.

O’er thee the lightnings flash in harmless anger,

The thunders roll,

Thou bearest, high above the tempest’s clangour,

A stainless soul!


Charlotte Nooth: Irish Woman Poet

Little is known about Charlotte Nooth other than that she published Original Poems, and A Play in 1815. As some of her work is in the Dialect of Northern Ireland, it is surmised that she may have been born there.


If Ellen, we indeed must part,
I wish we ne’er had met.
For well I know, this throbbing heart.
Can ne’er our loves forget.

My thoughts will ever rest on thee.
On happy moments fled;
And I the sole example be
Of Love when hope is dead.



Yes Arthur, I smiled in your absence ’tis true.
But then it was only when thinking of you.
Yes, pleas’d with Orlando’s discourse I might seem,
But then it was only when you were his theme.

Then hush your suspicions, dismiss all your fears,
Each moment of absence your image endears.
For the heart once possessed by affection like mine
May in fondness encrease, but can never decline.

Alicia Jane Sparrow: Irish Woman Poet

Alicia Jane Sparrow (? – 1858) was born in Killabeg, Enniscorthy, Wexford and apparently died at a relatively early age. She published widely in journals and anthologies in Ireland, the UK and the USA. The Exile’s Lament appeared in Friendship’s Offering, and Winter’s Wreath: a Christmas and New Year’s Present, which was published in London in 1844.


Farewell to the shore where my father is sleeping!

Oh, sweet and unbroken his rest may it be!

Farewell to the home where my mother is weeping

Her first-born — her dearest — alas! alien me!

Far away from the friends whom I loved in my childhood.

Estranged from the hearts that I clung to of yore,

I will seek me a rest in the desert or wild-wood.

And my country and kindred shall see me no more!