Selected Poems of James Henry

Edited by: Christopher Ricks

Publication Date: September 2002

(1 customer review)


Selected Poems of James Henry by Christopher Ricks

Death, I’d beg one favor of thee:

Whensoe’er thou’rt pleased to take me

From my weeping Katharine, take me

All at once – I’d have no Farewells

Where the parting is for ever.

Born in Dublin in 1798 and educated at Trinity College, James Henry was a controversially humane doctor, a passionate scholar of Virgilian manuscripts, and a lifelong interrogator of Christianity.

More than a century after James Henry’s death, Christopher Ricks came upon his poems – printed but unpublished – in the Cambridge University Library. Within these volumes Ricks discovered poetry ‘unaffectedly direct, sinewy, seriously comic. And brave.’ Henry’s convictions and his humour, his idiosyncrasies and his courage, come through in work that, Ricks writes, ‘has an integrity, a consistency, for all its engaging diversity of topic and tone’.

James Henry (1798-1876) Born in Dublin in 1798, the son of a woollen draper, James Henry took a degree in classics in Trinity College before studying medicine. He practiced as a doctor in York Street and Fitzwilliam Square, and was noted for charging a fee of five shillings, rather than the standard guinea fee, which he considered exorbitant.

During his years in practice, Henry wrote various pamphlets on medical subjects, as well as political tracts – including Little Island and Big Island (1841), a study of Ireland’s domination by Britain, and An Account of the Police in the City of Canton (1840), a critique of the newly established Dublin Metropolitan Police.

After receiving a legacy in the 1840s, Henry completely devoted himself to classical study. He spent most of the remainder of his life travelling on foot from one great European library to another collating Virgilian manuscripts. This work resulted in Notes of a Twelve years Voyage of Discovery in the First Six Books of the Eneis (1853) and the five-volume Aeneidea, most of which was published posthumously.

Henry’s wife Anne died in 1849 in Arco, but his daughter Katherine Olivia remained his travelling companion, crossing the Alps with her father at least seventeen times. They eventually returned to Ireland and lived in Dalkey, County Dublin. Henry died on 14 July 1876.

With the publication of the Selected Poems of James Henry, the world at large can hear the voice of a remarkable poet.

‘The Selected Poems of James Henry is indeed a rare treasure!’ Customer review


CHRISTOPHER RICKS is a Professor of the Humanities at Boston University, having previously taught at Oxford, Bristol and Cambridge. He has published books on Milton, Tennyson, Keats, T.S. Eliot and Beckett, as well as two collections of critical essays. He is the editor of The Oxford Book of English Verse (1999). His other works as editor include The Brownings: Letters and Poetry (1970), The New Oxford Book of Victorian Verse (1987), A.E. Housman: Collected Poems and Selected Prose (1988) and The Faber Book of America (1992; with William M. Vance).


1 review for Selected Poems of James Henry

  1. Lilliput Press

    “We all owe Christopher Ricks a Big “Thank You” for putting this book together. The Selected Poems of James Henry is indeed a rare treasure! It is almost impossible to believe that these poems were written over 150 years ago.
    The subjects treated by Henry are those contemplated by serious persons of any age but his approach and techniques are unique. Must reads are: “Heaven” and “Progress”.
    Anyone aware of this book and not having it in his library is a fraud.” WILLIAM DANEK

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Weight 0.5 kg
Dimensions 141 × 215 mm
Publication Date

September 2002


Hardback, 192pp