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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Arthur William Edgar O'shaughnessy

ARTHUR WILLIAM EDGAR O'SHAUGHNESSY (1844-1881), English poet, was born in London on the 14th of March 1844, and at the age of seventeen obtained through the first Lord Lytton, who took a peculiar interest in him, the post of transcriber in the library of the British Museum. Two years later he was appointed to be an assistant in the natural history department, where he specialized in ichthyology. But his natural bent was towards literature. He published his Epic of Women in 1870, Lays of France, a free version of the Lais of Marie de France, in 1872, and Music and Moonlight in 1874. In his thirtieth year he married a daughter of John Westland Marston, and during the last seven years of his life printed no volume of poetry. Songs of a Worker was published posthumously in 1881, O'Shaughnessy dying on the 30th of January in that year from the effects of a chill upon a delicate constitution. O'Shaughnessy was a true singer; but his poems lack importance in theme and dignity in thought. His melodies are often magnificent; and, as in The Fountain of Tears, the richness of his imagery conceals a certain vagueness and indecision of the creative faculty. He was very felicitous in bold uses of repetition and echo, by which he secured effects which for haunting melody are almost inimitable. His spirit is that of a mild melancholy, drifting helplessly through the realities of life and spending itself in song. By some critics he has been disparaged, but reparation was done to his memory by Francis Turner Palgrave, who, in the second series of the Golden Treasury, said with some exaggeration that his metrical gift was the finest, after Tennyson, of any of the later poets, and that he had "a haunting music all his own."

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Arthur William Edgar O'shaughnessy'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. https://www.studylight.org/encyclopedias/eng/bri/a/arthur-william-edgar-oshaughnessy.html. 1910.

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