The Chase of a Shadow : A Narrative Poem in Four Cantos
"The Chase of a Shadow: A Narrative Poem in Four Cantos" was written by Irish-American Denis M. Cronin. Completed in 1898, the poem recounts the trying and, according to Cronin's preface, true-life story of Fergus, a young, Irish aristocrat from The Sheep's Head Peninsula in Southwest County Cork. After Fergus is separated from his home, his true love and all he holds dear by events following Ireland's 1798 Rebellion, he struggles to find his way in his new home, Boston, clinging to his memories even as the years go by. Which side was Fergus on, Irish Rebel or English Rule? Does he succeed despite the odds? Are Fergus and his true love reunited in the end? Or is this story a tragedy? Read "The Chase of a Shadow" and find out for yourself! Denis Cronin died in August of 1929, having given his never published manuscript to his youngest daughter Cecelia. 58 years later, Cecelia mailed her father's manuscript to her granddaughter, Jenny Warsen, who published the first edition of "The Chase of a Shadow" for her great-grandfather posthumously in 1998. For those with an interest in the topics of mental illness, psychiatry and, in particular, the phenomenon of "voice hearing," you will findin "The Chase of a Shadow" hints that the poem's hero, Fergus, suffered certain symptoms of mental illness. What you will find too, if you read carefully, are the lines describing the struggling hero's experiences as a "a voice hearer" as well. Was the author, Denis Cronin--who suffered bipolar disorder--trying to hide clues that he was a voice hearer too? Read "The Chase of a Shadow" for yourself and decide. Denis M. Cronin was born on May 31, 1866 in the village of Kilcrohane in Southwest County Cork, Ireland. Kilcrohane is is located on Southwestern end of The Sheep's Head peninsula not far from Bantry. In 1888, on the eve of his emigration from Ireland to The United States, Denis M. Cronin penned a three-page poem he titled "The Last Round." It was poem written in the first person about his own life. Once in America, Denis took his 3-page poem, "The Last Round," and substituted a character named Fergus as the new hero of the much longer poem. Fergus, like Denis, was forced to leave Ireland and both lost their true love, only under different circumstances. One immigration record possibly Denis Cronin's states that he sailed to New York, but with his final destination noted as being Boston. This would make sense as Boston is where the hero Fergus in Denis Cronin's epic poem, "The Chase of a Shadow," ended up too. In 1898, the year Denis M. Cronin had planned that "The Chase of a Shadow" would be published, he married Jane (Jennie) Wallace and the two settled in Brooklyn, New York. By 1910 Denis had moved his wife and six kids to Yonkers, New York. There he worked as a letter carrier for the United States Postal Service until 1927. He died August 13, 1929 at age 63 in Yonkers with "The Chase of a Shadow" never published. A letter back to Ireland from Denis Cronin's brother complained that for the last six months Denis's life, Denis had been in bed with his wife Jennie telling all callers that Denis didn't want to see anyone. Family and friends were told Denis died of congestive heart failure. The actual but secret cause of death was listed on Denis' death certificate as "manic depressive insanity." One report that Denis had to be waked closed casket due to extreme wasting suggests he died of a hunger strike due to his depression. Denis Cronin's life goal was to see "The Chase of a Shadow" published and to be recognized as one of history's great poets.Hopefully that will posthumously come to pass. Hopefully too, his genius now for all to see in "The Chase of a Shadow" will be one more example of a person with a mental illness not only leading a productive life, but also excelling in his craft."
- Paperback | 150 pages
- 203.2 x 254 x 8.64mm | 394.62g
- 06 Mar 2015
- Illustrations, black and white
About Denis M Cronin
Denis M. Cronin was born the fifth of nine children on May 31rst, 1866 in a tiny cottage in Eskeraha, a "townland" in the village of Kilcrohane, in Ireland's Southwest County Cork. His parents--Michael Cronin of Caher and Catherine Daly of Eskeraha--were both poor in pocket but rich with the combined wealth of know-how, faith and fertile ground. Denis' inheritance, however, seems surely derived from traits handed him from further back along his mother's line. Though his father was well known for having at all times of leisure a book in his hand, it is actually his mother's lineage which may have been linked to one of Ireland's prominent families of poet bards. Denis was forced to leave Ireland when he and another young farmer refused to vote for the local English magistrate and would have been falsely arrested if they had remained. Denis left Ireland in March of 1888, joining his brother John and sister Brigit, who were already residing in New York. Ten years later, in 1898, Denis was living and working as a trolley conductor in Brooklyn, New York. That same year--the year he'd intended "The Chase of a Shadow" be first received--he married fellow Irish immigrant Jane (Jennie) Wallace and their first child, John J. Cronin, was born. Whether it was that responsibility or some other factor which caused him to miss his mark is unclear. What is known is that Denis Cronin's epic poem was not published then or ever in his lifetime, a reality which likely shadowed the rest of his life. Two decades later, his life work still unbound and resting in an envelope, Denis was working as a postman in Yonkers. His spare time was spent moonlighting as a freelance writer, reportedly with a fiercely Irish political bent, and as a poet too with his heart heading back to Ireland. "The Chase of a Shadow" is the legacy of his loyalties and his love. Denis Cronin's dream, as he plainly states in his preface, was to have his epic poem published in 1898 to mark the centennial of Ireland's "1798 Rebellion," the inciting incidents of which kick off this story of unrequited love. His dream was never realized. Denis died on August 13th of that year and in fact with "manic depressive insanity" noted on his death certificate as his cause of death. Whether he died of exhaustion during a manic phase or of suicide during one depressive, will never be known. What can be guessed is that he died heartbroken, assuming his story and his poem would die then too. Now he has his day.