Full of this whim was thoughtful Madeline:
The music, yearning like a God in pain,
She scarcely heard: her maiden eyes divine,
Fix´d on the floor, saw many a sweeping train
Pass by—she heeded not at all: in vain
Came many a tiptoe, amorous cavalier,
And back retir´d; not cool´d by high disdain,
But she saw not: her heart was otherwhere:
She sigh´d for Agnes´ dreams, the sweetest of the year.
"The Eve of St. Agnes"
Clarke may be described as Ireland´s major Symbolist artist, whose synthesis of literary, musical, poetic and imagined visual images draws on a wide range of eclectic, sometimes obscure sources to produce an entirely original and idiosyncratic vision. This is as firmly rooted in the Yeatsian Celtic Revival and National Romanticism of late 19th/early 20th century Ireland as in European Symbolism, Decadence, and Art Nouveau of the same period, with the unusual extra dimension of consummate technical skill in stained glass. Clarke´s ability to express his art through one of the most demanding of crafts, in a modern yet traditionally inspired Arts and Crafts idiom, gives his work a sumptuous richness and depth usually only evoked, rather than realised, by his contemporaries. In Ireland, this fusion of vision and skill was only achieved by his contemporaries, Wilhellmina Geddes and Michael Healy, of An Tur Gloine stained glass studio in Dublin, and, more recently, by the two
contemporary Cork-based artists, Maud Cotter and James Scanlon.