River Ravensbourne

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Lewisham High St.

Heritage Trail

Research and notes by Julian Watson

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St.Mary the Virgin, Lewisham Lewisham High Street  SE13 6LE

St.Mary the Virgin Lewisham

346 Lewisham High Street

SE13 6LE   020 8690 2682


Thomas Dermody

Thomas Dermody  1775–1802

Dermody was born in Ennis. He was scholarly but lived hard, and made little of his life. He spent some time as a soldier. He had the genius of a poet, and wrote fairly good poetry; but his genius was not enough. He lived for 27 years, half his life a promising boy and half a ne'er-do-well. His promise brought him generous patrons in his early days in Ireland, but he scorned the hand that fed him, denied the friends who would have nursed his genius, and ran away to England to keep bad company. Friend after friend he gained and lost. Patron after patron he abused. They clothed and cleaned him and made him presentable, but he would drink himself to nakedness and rags and behave like a brute. Such from day to day and year to year was his life, and in the end he drank himself to death and perished in a miserable cottage near Lewisham. He was filled with conceit and a slave to his desires, but the lines that are fading away on the stone above his grave show  that he was a poet. Wikipedia®

No titled birth hadst thou to boast,

Son of the desert, Fortune’s child,

Yet not by frowning fortune cross’d

The Muses on thy cradled smil’d.

Now a cold tenant dost thou lie

Of this dark cell; all hushed his song;

While Friendship bends with streaming eye,

As by the grave she wends along,

On the cold clay lets fall a holy tear,

And cries, though mute, there is a poet here!

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