The Prison Ships, And Other Poems, by Thomas Walsh
This book was not what I expected it to be, not that this is a bad thing by any means. In looking for collections of books related to prison poetry, I thought that the author would make rather straightforward poetry about the prison ships that took convicts to Australia or something of that nature. That’s not what this book provides at all. Indeed, this book doesn’t really have a lot in the way that is straightforward at all. It seems as if the author was a Catholic because there is a great deal of Latin language as well as Catholic religious principles included in the titles and content of the various poems. I didn’t find that to be a problem, but it was something I noticed, although I did not come into this book with any context about who Thomas Walsh was or what his history was. Those readers who do have more context are likely to be less surprised about this book, at any rate, than I was. The more you appreciate the history of the second half of the 19th century, the more interesting this particular book of poems will be.
There are at least a few elements to this book of poetry that help the collection cohere together as a unified whole. For one, there are some poems related to travel. This includes poetry connected to Gettysburg, Italy, and even a praise of Grover Cleveland as the savior of the American Republic. The author writes lots of poems about roses and the total work is about 100 pages long. By and large the poems show the author as a cultured author of poems and someone who has a lot to say about very interesting aspects of life, and has some knowledge of travel and literature, even if his politics are less than entirely praiseworthy. The general high tone of the work and the skill of the author is enough to win over most audiences, I would think.