|from "New Songs" published by O'Donoghue & Co|
Here is a look at Ella Young's early entry into the Irish literary scene as chronicled by Ernest Boyd in his 1916 study entitled Ireland's Literary Renaissance.
In spite of the absorption of literary talent by the Irish Theatre during the past ten years, the poetic impulseof the Eighteen Nineties was not allowed to expire. The dedication of A. E.’s Divine Vision indicated that a group of young poets, not yet known to the general public, was at hand to carry on the work of the generation represented by that volume — the last new book of verse to come from the original Theosophical Movement. Peculiarly fitted for intellectual leadership, A. E. became the link between his own and the rising generation when he selected the poems of this group for a collection entitled New Songs, which appeared shortly before The Divine Vision, in 1904. With this little volume he introduced the poets who had gathered about him, and were preparing, under his influence, to inaugurate the next phase of Anglo-Irish poetry. With the exception of Eva Gore-Booth, none of the contributors to New Songs had published verse in book form prior to its appearance. Padraic Colum, Thomas Keohler, Alice Milligan, Susan Mitchell, Seumas O'Sullivan, George Roberts and Ella Young — these names were previously known only to readers of the more eclectic Irish periodicals. Many of the writers belonged to the Hermetic Society, where they learned from the mystic teaching of A. E. the truths which had fired his own youth. In a limited sense, therefore. New Songs may be described as the manifesto of a school, for its authors stood at least in that personal relation to A. E. which is called discipleship. He was their leader in a more intimate sense than was possible to any other prominent figure in the revival of our poetry.
My research on Ella has shown that she remained very close friends with Padraic Colum, Alice Milligan, Susan Mitchell and Seamus O'Sullivan. I have mentioned a few of these "comrades" in previous posts. Ella broke off with A.E. over the issue of a divided Ireland. She could not settle for anything less than complete control of the island by the Irish. A.E. was basically tired of the struggle and gave in to the treaty. Ella never forgave him for this and soon after she left Ireland to begin her new life in California.
"The Virgin Mother" is one of Ella Young's poems included in this anthology. I think it holds the seed for what would become her future work.