Thursday 22 February 2024

Montparnasse Waltz, sung by Shannon Marie Harney


We have released Montparnasse Waltz - lyric and melody by Patrick O'Sullivan.


This is Track 8 of the incremental album, Harney sings O'Sullivan.  You can hear Montparnasse Waltz on the music platforms, and you can see the album coming together...

Montparnasse Waltz

On YouTube...

On Spotify

YouTube Playlist Overview

Spotify Artist Overview

And, in due course, on every music platform - wherever you find your music...


My thanks to Shannon Marie Harney, who has doggedly stuck with this project.

And who, with this song, has delivered something delicate...

And, as ever, thanks to Danny Yates, City Sound Studios...


By happenstance (perhaps) we have now issued recordings of two songs whose lyrics connect with my academic work, and activities in my other lives.  Indeed, there is a danger that Montparnasse Waltz will turn into a song version of a roman-à-clef.  

(The coinage 'chanson-à-clef' does not really work - all songs have clefs, and we are always searching for the right key.  Which, in my case, is usually G.)

I am going to park all that for the time being.  In due course people who want the texts and stories can have them.  For now, as one poet friend, K. E. Smith, has put it, Montparnasse Waltz is about the shock discovery that our guru has feet of clay...  And, as ever, my thanks to Ken Smith for his careful readings of text...


But I can tell you how this song, Montparnasse Waltz, found its shape.  The idea had waited in my notebook for years.  It was only in 2022 that I sat down - found the brain health and space - to decide where the lyric wanted to go.  In 2023 I worked it out.

I wanted to stay in a ballad structure - with really solid ABAB, hardworking rhymes, and stay in ballad metre.  The rhymes are in charge.

I took a first draft to Danny Yates, and said, I want to set this as a Waltz.

The second draft made more visible, and audible, the waltziness of the piece - we move from 4/4 time to 3/4.  The melodies are mine, but obviously pay attention to ballad melodies.  But in 3/4 time...

My reading at the time included Colm O Lochlainn, Irish Street Ballads - two lovely volumes, 1939 and 1965, now back on the shelves behind me.  O Lochlainn prints ballad texts, based on his own collection of nineteenth century broadside ballads, alongside melodies that these lyrics would have been sung to in his time...

These are links to the O Lochlainn collection at University College Dublin...

I think that the balladness is still there in my lyric, Montparnasse Waltz - ballad simplicity...

'There came a young man from the east...'

...And in the melodies.  We are all dipping our toes into the great lake of ballad melodies.  But mine is a waltz.


I will write a separate blog entry on the graphic design decisions that went into the making of the Harney sings O'Sullivan art work, album and singles.  You can see that, again with this album, we signal the approach of the complete album in the design - and occasionally we have added extra information in our choice of font.

The Montparnasse Waltz design signals Paris in its use of the original Hector Guimard Paris Metro font - this design, by Andrew Milne, makes use of the work of Luc Devroye, McGill University, Canada.

My thanks to Andrew Milne - who persuaded me to accept the brave decision to use that authentic, distorted, Guimard tall letter P in Parnasse...

And then - with voice and guitar, Shannon Marie Harney and Danny Yates - we took the song to Paris, to that Café.  You know the one?  No, not that one - the other one.  Half way up the hill...

Patrick O'Sullivan

February 2024

Thursday 8 February 2024

Sartre, that word 'diaspora', Links and References

Jean-Paul Sartre and that word, 'diaspora':  movement in time and space

Very pleased to be able to contribute, on Thursday February 8 2024, to the series of on-line seminars ‘Repositioning Ireland’s Place in the World: Old Configurations, New Realities’, part of the G.I.S EIRE research network, organised by Grainne O'Keeffe Vigneron, University of Rennes, and Anne Groutel, University of Paris 1...

Below, some of my notes...

I see this presentation as an exploration of interdisciplinary methods - of interdisciplinary problems and interdisciplinary solutions...

I assume no knowledge of the texts explored.

My very brief paper covers research areas where we have vast amounts of original source material, and vast amounts of further research and comment.  I give here only enough to track the train of thought...

My approach is personal and discursive.  The obvious links to the general guides and sources are easily available elsewhere.

But...  If you think that there are places where you would like to see more here, I am happy to revisit this blog entry and fatten it up.

In my other working lives we have recurring problems when people try to link on small devices to long web addresses, URLs.  So, here I have also given the TinyURL, when that seemed sensible.



The main texts under consideration are...

The original Gallimard edition of Jean-Paul Sartre, L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, translated as Being and Nothingness.

The Hazel Barnes translation...

Sartre, Jean-Paul, and Hazel E. Barnes. Being and Nothingness: An Essay on Phenomenological Ontology. Edited by Hazel E. Barnes. Philosophical Library, 1956.

and the new Sarah Richmond translation...

Sartre, Jean-Paul. Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology. Edited by Sarah Richmond. London: Routledge, 2018.

We also need to be aware of Sartre, Jean-Paul, Réflexions sur la question juive,1945/1946 - translated as Portrait of the Anti-Semite, London, 1948, and Anti-Semite and Jew, New York, 1948.

And the Hazel Barnes' autobiography...

Barnes, Hazel E. The Story I Tell Myself: A Venture in Existentialist Autobiography. University of Chicago Press, 1998.


The 2 background articles by Patrick O'Sullivan are...

O’Sullivan, Patrick. “Developing Irish Diaspora Studies: A Personal View.” New Hibernia Review 7, no. 1 (2003): 130–48.

Tiny URL

O’Sullivan, Patrick. “On First Looking into Mercier’s The Irish Comic Tradition.” New Hibernia Review 8, no. 4 (2004): 152–57.

Tiny URL

There are a number of notes on blog, here at Fiddler's Dog, which consider further my approach to Irish Diaspora Studies - most recently this one...

See also

Greenslade, Liam. “White Skins, White Masks: Psychological Distress among the Irish in Britain.” In The Irish in the New Communities, edited by Patrick O’Sullivan, 2:201–25. The Irish World Wide. London & Washington: Leicester University Press, 1992.

Which can be found here on my archive




That word 'diaspora'...

The 3 editions of Robin Cohen's book show the debate expanding over time...

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas. London: UCL Press, 1997.

Cohen, Robin, Global Diasporas: An Introduction edition 2, illustrated, revised Publisher Routledge, 2008

Cohen, Robin. Global Diasporas An Introduction 25TH ANNIVERSARY EDITION. Routledge, Taylor & Francis Group, 2022. .

see also...

Dufoix, Stéphane, and William Rodarmor. Diasporas. 1st ed. University of California Press, 2008.

Dufoix, Stéphane. “Des Usages Antiques de Diaspora Aux Enjeux Conceptuels Contemporains.” Pallas, no. 89 (November 7, 2012): 17–33.

Kenny, Kevin. Diaspora: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford Univ. Press, 2013.

and see...

Fitzgerald, Patrick, and Brian Lambkin. Migration in Irish History, 1607-2007. Palgrave Macmillan, 2008, pages 275-276,

We can start thinking about diaspora as a 'type of consciousness' with Steven Vertovec - for example...

Vertovec, Steven. “Conceiving and Researching Transnationalism.” Ethnic and Racial Studies 22, no. 2 (1999): 447–62.

What is often forgotten are the obvious links between the word 'diaspora', now a word in so many languages, and the English word 'broadcast'.

I have put that photograph of a farmer in Perthshire at the top of this page, to remind me not to forget...


This is the Perseus project at Tufts University

This link takes you directly to the paragraph in Thucydides, The Peloponnesian War, cited by Kevin Kenny.

Tiny URL

(Irish history specialists will notice that if, in that paragraph from Thucydides, we replace the word 'Athens' with the word 'England', and replace 'Aegina' with 'Ireland', the paragraph still makes sense - and becomes a summary of the history of these islands...)

Note that you can use the Perseus web site to explore all the uses and variants of the word 'speiro', including '(dia)speiro'...

This is Herodotus, Histories...

Tiny URL

There is, of course, a huge debate - and a fascinating, but delicately poised, research literature.  See, for example...

Thompson, Thomas L, and Philippe Wajdenbaum. The Bible and Hellenism: Greek Influence on Jewish and Early Christian Literature. Edited by Thomas L Thompson and Philippe Wajdenbaum. Abingdon: Routledge, 2014.


Black Swans...

The examples I should reference properly include...

Spicer, Edward H. “The Yaqui Indians of Arizona.” Kiva 5, no. 6 (1940): 21–24.

Which helps us find...

Calloway, C G. The Western Abenakis of Vermont, 1600-1800: War, Migration, and the Survival of an Indian People. The Civilization of the American Indian Series. University of Oklahoma Press, 1994

And see...

Lavelle, Michael. “Nationality and the Irish Abroad.” In Irish Man - Irish Nation Lectures on Some Aspects of Irish Nationality Delivered Before the Columban League, Maynooth, During 1946. Dublin: Mercier Press, 1947.


This is a source for that G. K. Chesterton quote - but you will find it all over the place...

'Philosophy is merely thought that has been thought out. It is often a great bore.

But man has no alternative, except between being influenced by thought that has been thought out and being influenced by thought that has not been thought out.'

(Here in Bradford, Yorkshire, the revived Bradford Irish Society is considering a project about the Right Reverend Monsignor John O'Connor, 1870–1952, Chesterton's friend, often considered the model for Chesterton's detective, Father Brown.  The Reverend O’Connor’s final parish was St Cuthbert's, Bradford – St. Cuthbert’s Church is a few yards from my home.)

On my blog is a brief note which also engages with the habits of the philosophical method...

As an example of thinking about this academic area - I remember liking the work of David Concepción...

Concepción, David W. “Reading Philosophy with Background Knowledge and Metacognition.” Teaching Philosophy 27, no. 4 (2004): 351–68.



Reputation of Sartre...  Well...  Where to begin...

The key text for me is the brief mention in...

Magee, Bryan. The Great Philosophers: An Introduction to Western Philosophy. Oxford Paperbacks. Oxford University Press, 2000, pages 275-6

Originally published 1987, and based on a television series...

I see that the original television interview is available on YouTube...

...key moment, at 37 minutes onwards, when the interviewee says that Heidegger described Being and Nothingness as 'muck', 'Dreck'...  And Magee says '...It is difficult to believe that Sartre will survive as a philosopher...'

See also

Manser, Anthony R. “Sartre and Le Néant.” Philosophy 36, no. 137 (1961): 177–87.

I will look at Hazel Barnes' comments on Sartre, and my own difficulties with Sartre...



This is the web site of the Delancey Street Foundation, San Francisco, USA...

'We are a community where people with nowhere to turn, turn their lives around.

Delancey Street is the country's leading residential self-help organization for former substance abusers, ex-convicts, homeless and others who have hit bottom...' 

and this link takes you to the restaurant...

'Delancey Street Restaurant is a key training school of the Delancey Street Foundation, the country's largest self-help residential organization for people who have hit bottom to completely rebuild their lives. Like the immigrants who came through Ellis Island to Delancey Street on New York's Lower East Side at the turn of the century to start new lives, newcomers to Delancey Street Foundation are "immigrants" of all races, all ages, all backgrounds, who come together in this community of last resort...'



I look briefly at the renewed interest in Réflexions sur la question juive, Anti-Semite and Jew...

Let me note the helpful work of Stuart Charmé...

Charmé, Stuart Z. Authentically Jewish: Identity, Culture, and the Struggle for Recognition. Rutgers University Press, 2022.




We have recorded, and have released, one of my Sartre songs...  This is Pierre, on YouTube...

But you will find it on every music streaming platform.  Worth listening to on one of the better quality platforms, to hear the detail of the arrangement.

This is the link to the discussion on my blog...

The important point here is that we have an explanation for the Duke of Wellington's appearance, or non-appearance, in Sartre's Being and Nothingness...


Patrick O'Sullivan

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies

London Metropolitan University

February 8 2024


Below my own outline, which became my road map through this research material...

Patrick O’Sullivan 

Jean-Paul Sartre and that word, 'diaspora':  movement in time and space

 OUTLINE January 11 2024

‘In the Ancient world, the term “diaspora” referred to the profound cohesion and dispersion of the Jewish people.  We can make use of this word…’

Sartre, J.-P. (2018) Being and Nothingness: An Essay in Phenomenological Ontology, Translated by Sarah Richmond. London: Routledge, page 201.

On page 172 of the original Gallimard edition of L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, Being and Nothingness, Jean-Paul Sartre becomes preoccupied with a new word, ‘diaspora’.  In my 1969 copy of the 1956 Hazel Barnes translation of Being and Nothingness the word first appears on page 136.  In the new 2018 translation, by Sarah Richmond, it is page 201.  The word ‘diaspora’ is there in Sartre’s thought for a further 80 pages – then disappears.

These uses of the word ‘diaspora’ by Sartre have not been much noticed.  The word does not appear in the standard works on Sartre.  And the name ‘Sartre’ does not appear in the standard works on Diaspora.  The word ‘diaspora’ does appear in Sarah Richmond’s index to her translation.

In this paper, I outline the place of Sartre in my own personal history, and in the history of my generation - and in my thinking as I developed Irish Diaspora Studies.  Through an interdisciplinary approach to the study of Sartre, I suggest a method behind a reading of Being and Nothingness (philosophy as genre).  I look briefly at the light thrown by that reading on a later work, Réflexions sur la question juive,1945/1946 - translated as Portrait of the Anti-Semite, London, 1948, and Anti-Semite and Jew, New York, 1948.  And I look at the few brief mentions of Sartre’s interest in the word 'diaspora’ that I have been able to find. 

I end with a summary of Sartre’s notion of ‘diaspora’, drawn from the book, Being and Nothingness.  The form of words that Sartre uses - ‘reflection is a diasporic phenomenon’ – seems to anticipate later developments in diaspora theorising.  The interdisciplinary approach would question any simple overlap – this paper thus becomes an exploration of interdisciplinary processes.  At the very least, Sartre’s use of the word ’diaspora’ must have a place in the history of uses of that disputed word.

This paper takes its place in the series of on-line seminars ‘Repositioning Ireland’s Place in the World: Old Configurations, New Realities’, part of the G.I.S EIRE research network, organised by Grainne O'Keeffe Vigneron, University of Rennes, and Anne Groutel, University of Paris 1.


Patrick O’Sullivan January 11 2024

© Patrick O’Sullivan 2024

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan University



Jean-Paul Sartre, page 172 of the original Gallimard edition of L'être et le néant: essai d'ontologie phénoménologique, 1943, Being and Nothingness...

Sunday 28 January 2024

Pierre, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

Pierre, sung by Shannon Marie Harney,

I am pleased to be able to announce that we have released another track, in our developing project...

Pierre, sung by Shannon Marie Harney - words and music by Patrick O'Sullivan - can now be seen, and heard, on YouTube, Apple, and Spotify... 



On Spotify

On Apple Music

On YouTube

And, in due course, on every streaming service...

My thanks to Shannon Marie Harney, and to Danny Yates, City  Sound Studios...

Pierre is the final song in my 2010 song lyric book, Love Death and Whiskey...


I - like (I think) many people - found 2023 an odd, hard year.  Yes, we were able to move about, but it seemed difficult to bring any endeavour to completion.  So many fractured networks, so much illness.  Sometimes all we could do was be dogged...

And sometimes 'It’s dogged as does it...'

And we did  it.

There are problems with dogged - keep development routes open, but do not over-promise.


Going to the café to meet Pierre...  Is the moment when, reading Jean-Paul Sartre's Being and Nothingness, we think, O, I get it.

There is by now something of a tradition of reading that moment in Being in Nothingness as Being about Being In Love.  That is how Andy Martin reads it, in his book...

Martin, Andy. The Boxer and The Goal Keeper: Sartre Versus Camus. Simon & Schuster UK, 2012.

We think, like Sam in Love Actually, of the 'total agony of being in love'.  Perhaps we think of the Second Date.  Anticipation, excitement.  A tryst?

In the background are my thoughts about song - like, maybe you do not need a long text to make a long song, with its own narrative and development.  And my thanks  to the performers who helped me work out those thoughts.


Of course, at that moment, in reading in Being and Nothingness, we do not actually get to meet Pierre.  He is not there.  As powerful in his absence as is Godot.

We should really read the name 'Pierre' in Being and Nothingness as simply a place holder in a philosopher's thought experiment - a very common name, any man, much like English-speaking philosophers talk of Tom, Dick and Harry.

(And they do.  They do.)

Later in Being and Nothingness we DO meet Pierre.  A lot.  Pierre, a hapless fellow, and not that interesting, wanders from predicament to predicament, from thought experiment to thought experiment.  I briefly considered, and immediately discarded, the notion of something about the further adventures of Sartre's Pierre.  Nah.


Then things get more complex than is strictly tolerable.

Evidently the first appearance of Pierre is something of a private joke - I am going to use that word 'joke' - between de Beauvoir and Sartre.  Those pages in Being and Nothingness meditate on a section of de Beauvoir's novel - L' Invitee/ She Came to Stay.  Which is itself a mediation on their complex love life, and just one ménage à trois.  (Actually, it is a ménage à quatre - but let us not get bogged down...)

My source here is a chapter by Edward Fullbrook and Kate Fullbrook...

Fullbrook, Edward, and Kate Fullbrook. “The Absence of Beauvoir.” In Feminist Interpretations of Jean-Paul Sartre, edited by Julien S. Murphy, 45–63. Pennsylvania State University Press, 1999.

See also

Fullbrook, Edward. “She Came to Stay and Being and Nothingness.” Hypatia 14, no. 4 (January 19, 1999): 50–69.

In the novel Elisabeth enters the room of her rival, Francoise - there is evidence of the recent presence of Francoise, and evidence of her absence.  Her stockings, her perfume.  There is a bust of Napoleon, there is an open volume of Shakespeare.

Also absent from the room is the errant husband - Pierre.

In Being and Nothingness Sartre signals his interest in de Beauvoir's novel, by developing the absence of Pierre.  From the café.  Also absent from the café are the Duke of Wellington and Paul Valery.

When I wrote my own mediation on Pierre, many years ago, I did not know then that de Beauvoir originally wrote 'Napoleon' and Sartre, jokingly, changed that to 'Wellington' - which I had changed to Napoleon.  But I am not at all surprised.

I should explain that 'Napoleon' is simply far more present in English-speaking story and song...

There used to be a pub, here in Bradford, Yorkshire, called The Napoleon...

While we are at it...  Pierre, of course, has his own history in song.  We could begin with You Never Can Tell, by Chuck Berry - 'You could see that Pierre did truly love the mademoiselle'.  Which becomes the track for the Twist Competition in Tarantino's Pulp Fiction.  Which refers to the one-take 'Madison' sequence in Godard's Bande à part...


I really do thank the performers and musicians who have allowed me to develop my thinking about song, and develop my practice - exploring pattern, repetition, structure.  Pierre is an example.

As I say, in this project, I especially thank Shannon Marie Harney, and Danny Yates, City  Sound Studios...

Now...  Back to my well wrought urns...

Patrick O'Sullivan

January 2024

Below, the page from Hazel Barnes' translation, in which Pierre, the Duke of Wellington and Paul Valery do not appear...

Monday 8 January 2024

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan University (Continued)


Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies, London Metropolitan University (Continued 2024)

January 7 2024

My thanks to the friends and colleagues who noticed the anniversary of the start of my relationship with London Metropolitan University, and my role there, Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies...

And, yes, London Metropolitan University and I have (quietly) agreed that we should continue our relationship for a further year.  We have plans.

My thanks to Don MacRaild, Pro-Vice Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange, and Lynn Dobbs, Vice-Chancellor and Chief Executive of London Metropolitan University. 

I must also thank the patient staff of London Metropolitan University, especially in the Library and in Research Support - who have been so helpful in difficult times.

Our thing, this Visiting Professor thing, began towards the end of 2019.  Then and early in 2020 I held a series of meetings in London - making links, exploring ideas and possible projects.  I walked and talked.  London, with its complex past and present, and its many academic strengths, ought to be a world centre for Diaspora Studies.  It isn't.

Well, as you know, all plans were kiboshed by the pandemic.  I wrote a (rather sad) little note, which is still there on my blog...

And I am still sad.  Here are some rock pools of sadness, chosen from many such pools...



Notre Autre Voisin...

It was always obvious, and was even more obvious in 2020, that, if we wanted to develop Irish Diaspora Studies in London, in the South of England, we should reach out to our colleagues in France.  Especially in Northern France, a few hours away.

And this was working well.  For example, our colleagues at the University of Caen, and Caen University Press, made available to us, as a gift to London Metropolitan University, a selection of their books in our field.  The books arrived just in time to be locked away, as the virus crisis took hold.

But we have, thankfully, stayed in touch online with our colleagues in France - there have been online gatherings.  Always in Irish Diaspora Studies, when I am struggling to explain a train of thought, perfect examples present themselves.  I think here particularly of Nathalie Sebbane's presentation, the thought behind her book about the Magdalene Laundries...  See...

Sebbane, N. (2021) Memorialising the Magdalene Laundries: From Story to History. Peter Lang .

For me, in the background, in this conversation with Ireland's Other Neighbour, is a developing project about differing national and scholarly/academic approaches to Irish matters -  it is an 'Irish Diaspora Studies' critique of 'Irish Studies'.  I have quietly collected the material for many years...

This must now be, in part, a dialogue with the 2021 Handbook edited by Renée Fox and colleagues...

Fox, R., Cronin, M. and Ó Conchubhair, B. (2021) Routledge International Handbook of Irish Studies. Routledge.

...especially a dialogue with Michael Cronin's chapter 3, 'Irish Studies in the non-Anglophone world'.

This is that Michael Cronin, of Trinity College Dublin - whose work on translation we admire and use.

Not Mike Cronin, Boston College, one of the Editors of the Handbook - who is also admired.  Mike Cronin's own chapter in the Handbook is Chapter 10, 'Connections and capital: the diaspora and Ireland’s global networks'.

Similar dialogue with Michael and Mike. And all good wishes...

Thus we are in meditation with a remark by Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin, that 'Irish Studies' was invented by Joseph Campbell at Fordham, in 1926...  See p11 of...

Campbell, J. and Ní Chuilleanáin, E. (2001) ‘As I was Among the Captives’: Joseph Campbell’s Prison Diary, 1922-1923. Cork: Cork University Press.

We look at the different underpinnings, intellectual and structural, in different places, in the development of Irish Studies and Irish Diaspora Studies.  And specific difficulties...



The Theology of Diaspora...

My notes on this began, long ago, with a reading of Nicholas Lash...

Lash, N. (1982) A Matter of Hope: A Theologian’s Reflections on the Thought of Karl Marx. Longman and Todd.

There have been notes shared, over the years, with a number of colleagues - I think now of Thomas O'Loughlin, in Nottingham.  And, more recently, Aidan Beatty, in Pittsburgh

Where would I begin nowadays?  Maybe with Jeremiah 29, which is both an Emigrant Letter (as we now understand these things) and a Diaspora Policy (as we now understand these things).

Or Diaspora This Worldly/Theology Next Wordly?

Certainly the Theology of Diaspora is something that needs to be refreshed, and there is enough interest to develop some kind of exploration and gathering.

(Recently, in a discussion elswhere, I made the interdisciplinary point that when the word, 'diaspora' moved from Greek literature and history - it is used mostly in histories - to the Greek language version of the Bible, it changed disciplines.  It moved from history to theology.



Rhyme And...

In recent times I have worked a lot alongside colleagues in what are broadly called the Digital Humanities.  I am the guy who asks the obvious questions - I do this because it is part of my role to collate the obvious answers.

It is complained, perhaps fairly, that too often the Digital Humanities represent a solution in search of a problem.  For this very reason I collect problems that will welcome Digital Humanities solutions.  These can be problems within Irish Diaspora Studies, or problems that can be given an Irish Diaspora Studies spin.

And so to Rhyme...  I am unusual amongst the poets of my generation in that I am comfortable with traditional poetic techniques.  I know how they work, and I know how to make them work...

I won't go into detail here - but we are in a strange golden age of Rhyme.  Rhyme has spread into cultures with no previous history of popular rhyming verse.  It might be the influence of Rap, or it might be the influence of John Skelton and Edith Sitwell...

But the obvious starting point - the spin - for us, today, is with W. B. Yeats.  And I can give my standard lecture on Yeats and Rhyme.

To my joy - when I began planning work for the Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies - I found myself exchanging notes with Marjorie Perloff, who seems as active and charming as ever.  (I am not.)

Her early book on Yeats...

Perloff, M. (1970) Rhyme and Meaning in the Poetry of Yeats. Paris: Mouton

...has always seemed to me to offer a Digital Humanities approach.  Avant la lettre.

And now the software is in place, and I am in touch with the software developers - and we can test my observation.

Marjorie Perloff herself explains that behind her thesis, and the subsequent book, is the approach of Craig LaDrière, at the Catholic University, Washington.  LaDrière looked, in the study of literature, for things to measure - we are familiar with this approach in the social sciences and in the development of social policy.   I guess that LaDrière himself has pretty much disappeared from view - the Ezra Pound specialists might know the name.  LaDrière did some nice work on genre.  In her Memoir, p226, Marjorie Perloff comments that this focus on the 'ontology of poetry' put the Catholic University students, in a curious way, 'ahead of the game' in later developments in the worlds of theory.

There are moments when Marjorie Perloff's Memoir offers footnotes to Irish Diaspora Studies - like the series of chances that took her to the Catholic University, Washington, to sit alongside all those nuns and Christian Brothers, and study under LaDrière.  LaDrière would always arrive late to give his lectures, and would always begin his lectures by reciting the Hail Mary prayer.  In French.

Marjorie Perloff's own Memoir is a powerful, thoughtful, moving classic of Diaspora Studies - it is a book I would be happy to bring to a seminar.  I will be fulsome.

Perloff, M. (2004) The Vienna Paradox: A Memoir. New Directions Books.

It asks the question:  what does a little 4 year girl, of Jewish heritage, fleeing across the Atlantic from Anschluss Vienna, need to know?  It recounts how German-speaking Gabriele became English-speaking Marjorie - as Amerika became America.  The Memoir's Epilogue includes little nods to Terry Eagleton, on Wittgenstein of course, and to Yeats...



And so forth...


The Diaspora Dictum  Do what you can, where you are.  As opportunities arise, and when I am asked, I am getting back into the habit of academic lecturing and presentations - and have not done too badly, really, with projects about the Emigrant Letter, Ireland and the BBC, Jonathan Swift, Denis Johnston, Samuel Beckett, and more.  The themes outlined above give a flavour.  

I continue, as usual, the collation of research material and research advice.  Here in Yorkshire, I have given my support to the revived Bradford Irish Society - who have asked me to give a lecture on the Irish origins and interests of the Brontës.  That is the sort of thing I can do - an Irish Diaspora Studies approach.  Of course.


Patrick O'Sullivan

Visiting Professor of Irish Diaspora Studies

London Metropolitan University 

January 7 2024

Patrick O'Sullivan's Whole Life Blog


Archives of the Irish Diaspora List, 1997-2017

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Saturday 16 December 2023

Good Drying Day, sung by Shannon Marie Harney

Good Drying Day

Sung by Shannon Marie Harney

Lyric and Melody by Patrick O'Sullivan

New song out there, doing nicely...

Yes, a song about Doing the Laundry...

The song will be visible and audible on every other streaming platform, in due course...

Has already turned up on Apple...

Good Drying Day


And Spotify...


And YouTube


Worth listening on a higher quality platform, if you have access - to hear the detail of the arrangement...

Note that through Musixmatch Pro I am able to slot in lyrics on the platforms that will accept lyrics, like Spotify.

Musixmatch will even have a stab at translating lyrics...


This is the French...

In tidying the lyric I left enough subtext and back story in place, I think, to satisfy those who like subtext and backstory.  Others will not notice.  

What the BBC calls 'a certain brand' of washing machine plays a little phrase from Schubert's Trout at the end of its cycle.  

It is Samsung.  

So...  We quote Schubert at the beginning of Good Drying Day...

...and the laundry is done...

Patrick O'Sullivan

December 2023

The Spirit of My Song, by Metta Victoria Fuller and Stephen C. Foster


This is the link to my YouTube recording of

The Spirit of My Song

poetry by Metta Victoria Fuller, music by Stephen C. Foster

Video link

In the weeks before Christmas, there is now a tradition that the members of UK Autoharps build an Advent Calendar - members develop and share a song, one member/one song per day, in the days leading up to Christmas.

It is a nice tradition.  It began in the days of lockdown and breakdown.

And The Spirit of My Song is my contribution, December 17, 2023...



From my point of view there are a number of sub-traditions.

It has become a tradition that my offering to the UK Autoharps Advent Calendar develops from my exploration of the song archives - specifically the archives of Stephen Foster.

The Autoharp has a special relationship with these nineteenth century 'parlour songs' - for the parlour was one of the places where the Autoharp found a niche. 

The case study is the nineteenth century 'parlour song' which escaped from the parlour and, through the Carter Family, became a 'folk song', and an Autoharp standard - Wildwood Flower/ I'll Twine 'Mid the Ringlets.

Stephen Foster songs are usually very Autoharp-friendly.



Often a feature of these parlour songs is their hard won 'poetic diction'.

We can take the discussion in any number of directions - one starting point is this note by the Academy of American Poets, on

But...  Search on, search on...

I see this turn to poetic diction as part of the expansion of education and printing in the late nineteenth century, especially in the USA.

With due deference to Wordsworth, it would be very odd if we defined poetry in a way that made poets use ONLY everyday language in their poems.  Poets who use heightened, elaborate language, with arcane and unusual words, are not making a mistake.  They are exploring a resource - in many cases a resource that is, through education, new to them.  They are demonstrating a developing skill.  And some human experiences ask for heightened language.



These thoughts arise from my work on...

The Spirit of My Song

poetry by Metta Victoria Fuller, music by Stephen C. Foster

This is the sheet music on the Library of Congress web site.

You can see that the LOC librarian wrote on the title page the date when the song entered the Library of Congress, 21 August 1850.

See also...

Foster's Complete Songs

In 1850 the poet, Metta Victoria Fuller, was 19 years old.

Let us see if we can find a way to treat her song with respect.



There is a Wikipedia entry on Metta Fuller

You can see that, with marriage, her full name became Metta Victoria Fuller Victor...

But that was only one of her many, many names.  She became a successful professional writer, publishing under at least a dozen names, often masculine names, some weird masculine names like 'Seeley Regester' .

So, very hard to research...

See also

Women Writers and Detectives in Nineteenth-Century Crime Fiction

The Mothers of the Mystery Genre

Lucy Sussex

Metta Fuller is sometimes credited with bringing the detective into American crime fiction - her Mr. Burton does seem like a nod to Dickens' Mr. Bucket.



I first came across the text of The Spirit of My Song in the sheet music of 1850.

The text is also visible on Google Books in

Poems of Sentiment and Imagination: With Dramatic and Descriptive Pieces

By Frances A. Fuller, and Metta V. Fuller

Published in 1851

Page 211


(The New York Public Library, and Google Books, have made a mistake - in attaching Metta's later married name, Victor, to both sisters...)

Metta and Frances - Frances is the older sister - describe their poems as 'the first fruit offering of young hearts...'

And say that the poems 'have before appeared through various literary mediums...'

I assume that Stephen Foster saw the text in a journal, or it might have been sent to him for consideration.

Note that Metta Fuller's text does not have a chorus.  She does top and tail the lyric with the same four lines

Tell me, have you ever met her

Met the spirit of my song?

Have her wave-like footsteps glided

Through the city's worldly throng?


Those are the first 4 lines of the poem and they are the last 4 lines.

I deduce that Stephen Foster wanted a song with a chorus.  He knew his audience.

So, the Composer decided that the first four lines of the song would become the Chorus - and that is set out in the sheet music.

As ever the Melody has two parts, Melody A on the first 4 lines of the 8 line stanza, Melody B on the second 4 lines.

The repeats of those 4 lines as Chorus with Melody A, and the structure of the song, are Composer decisions.

We respect the decisions of the Poet and the Composer.  So, we get those 4 lines a total of 8 times, once in stanza 1, once in stanza 6, and in the 6 choruses.

And in stanza 6, where those 4 lines are the last lines of the poem, we sing the same 4 lines first on Melody B and then, back into the Chorus, on Melody A.

This is hard.



Now, let me introduce another sub-tradition.  It turns out that my work for the UK Autoharps Advent Calendar becomes an investigation of the state of my health as the winter progresses...

There is a video from a previous year where you can see me, lashed to the microphone, determined to stay upright and give a performance.

This year, 2023...  Turns out I was having a slow motion health crisis.  I was ill throughout October - merely a Very Bad Cold.  Merely...  I lost October.

November was spent recovering and apologising.

I asked for extra time from the organisers of the Advent Calendar project - my thanks to Helen Slade and the other Autoharpers who stepped in to help.

In the video you can hear how ill I was.  We have left in some fluffs and spoonerisms.  We had to - there were so many.  Only sometimes do I hit that high note.

Have we invented the Raku Ware approach to the music video? - where the blemish is part of the process, and a part of the beauty?  Nah.



I wanted the video and the performance to keep the Autoharp-friendly nature of Stephen Foster' setting.  And to respect the text.

This young Poet is pushing Poetic Diction.  Hard.  You have to take this on its own terms, and enjoy its effects.

There are some splendid effects - eyes that 'magnificently flash'.

So...  what is the song about?  What did Stephen Foster hear?  Who is the Spirit of Metta Fuller's song?

At one level, it must be a song about our Muse - the bringer of inspiration.  Perhaps Euterpe, the Muse of Music and Lyric Poetry, often shown carrying a flute, or Terpsichore, the Muse of Dance and Choral Song, with her lyre.

And in Metta Fuller's poem the Spirit has a lyre, and tries to teach Metta how to play the lyre.

But Metta Fuller's Spirit can be clearly seen, and met, walking through the crowds.  The text follows the Sprit into the home, into the parlour.  Where she brings inspiration, yes - and comfort and education.

I think that Metta Fuller is writing about her older sister, Frances.

So there it is - my contribution to the UK Autoharps Advent Calendar 2023.

But is this a Christmas Song?

Again, following Dickens – Christmas is when we see Spirits, and learn from them.


Patrick O'Sullivan

December 2023


Saturday 25 February 2023

Shannon Marie Harney sings The Border...

Shannon Marie Harney sings The Border...

We have released a new recording of the O'Sullivan/Edwards song, The Border.

The setting, the melody, is by Sue Edwards - who is well known to the autoharp community, of course.

And it is a very autoharp friendly melody - chords are G C D.  We have added a little Middle 8 section, Chords Em C G D.

Sue took a lyric of mine from my song lyric book, Love Death and Whiskey, pages 44-45, and set it.  I have always really liked this setting, and its embrace of repetition.  The patterns of repetition in the lyric interweave with the patterns of repetition in the melody.  Highlighting different phrases - different words and different melodic phrases.  It is the kind of repetition you would exploit in a song lyric, but not in a poem.  Very much the whole being greater than the sum.

The singer is Shannon Marie Harney.  I have said that my stuff is not a typical part of Shannon Marie's repertoire.  And, at first, she sang this song almost in rock chick mode - which I liked, and might have been happy with.

But we gave Shannon Marie her studio time - the song asserted itself, and took its own direction. 

I hope Sue Edwards is happy with the result.

The obvious links are pasted in below - but the song can be found wherever you look for your music...

I have also pasted in the Chordify link, so that you can see the pattern of the chords.  And the Google Books link to the song lyric book.

My thanks to Sue Edwards, to Shannon Marie Harney, and to Danny Yates, City Sound Studios.




Provided to YouTube by CDBaby

The Border · Shannon Marie Harney

 ℗ 2023 Patrick Joseph O'Sullivan, Sue Edwards

 Released on: 2023-02-22

Auto-generated by YouTube.









Chordify, Shannon Marie Harney, The Border


Love Death and Whiskey - 40 Songs

By Patrick O'Sullivan · 2010

Patrick O'Sullivan

February 2023