Poem of the Day: “Corrinne’s Last Love-Song,” by the poet known as “Speranza”

A few things to know about the poet known as Speranza (27 December 1821 – 3 February 1896).

She was an Irish nationalist, and her best-known poems advanced the cause.

Her youngest daughter died in childhood; her husband, a prominent doctor, who was once knighted by the Queen, bequeathed her a scandal (several illegitimate children who died, in youth, in a horrible fire) and, upon his death, mountains of debt.

Her younger son became a prominent playwright, but he was in prison and in the depths of scandal and ignominy when Speranza herself died in poverty, of bronchitis.

Denied permission to see her son in prison, she sent her ghost instead.

(Yes, we know who her son was. Everyone remembers him, Speranza’s son. But today we are talking about her.)

She was buried in an unmarked pauper’s grave.

“Speranza” means “hope” in Italian; it is also a kind geometrid moth and a character in The Faerie Queen. Some of her poems were angry, sad and political. Others were sad and romantic, including this one, Corrinne’s Last Love-Song, which we present in its original print.

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The discussion of this poem first appeared in Audere Magazine.

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