Alfred Perceval Graves

From The Cabinet of Irish Literature, Volume 4, edited by T. P. O'Connor

Alfred Perceval Graves is the son of Dr. Graves, the Bishop of Limerick, and was born in Dublin in 1846. He was educated at Trinity College, obtaining double-first honours in classics and English. He graduated in 1870, after entering the Home Office, where he became private secretary to Mr. Winterbotham, then under-secretary in that department,whose premature decease, it may be remembered, caused some years ago so much regret among all parties. Mr. Graves is now one of Her Majesty's inspectors of schools.

Brought up amid scholastic surroundings, Mr. Graves began at an early age to write. His first literary production appeared in the Dublin University Magazine when he was but sixteen or seventeen years of age. He employed himself at this time for the most part in giving poetic translations from the Greek and Latin classics. Mr. Graves has also contributed to Fraser, the Spectator, Punch, and several other periodicals. The first collection of his poems was published in 1872, under the title Songs of Killarney. The work was received with a chorus of praise from the journals—literary and political, English, Irish, and Scotch, and, it may be added, American. The book consists for the most part of Irish songs and ballads. The aim of the poet has been to express the humour and pathos of the Irish character, and, further, to make the expression of these passions take the simplicity of form in which the Irish people would themselves clothe them. Our first two quotations are from this collection, and we think the book as a whole shows that the author has attained remarkable success in his object. These poems are full of genuine Irish humour, which is delicate and graceful, and utterly free, it need scarcely be said, from the buffoonery that has been made to pass as characteristically Irish. There is also true natural melody in the verses, and the sentiment is pure and healthy.

Mr. Graves is also the joint author of a successful work on school management, entitled the Elementary School Manager. Another volume of his poems, under the title Irish Songs and Ballads, is in the press, from which we make our remaining quotations.

See Irish Spinning-Wheel Song and Irish Lullaby