National Gallery of Ireland The Song of the Mad Prince

The Song of the Mad Prince

National Gallery of Ireland, Merrion Square, Dublin City, Rep of Ireland ,  Window: 1 Lights 1 :  1917

The Song of the Mad Prince

The song of the mad prince is an exquisite panel housed in a James Hicks cabinet. A small light at the back of the cabinet illuminates the panel. The panel is made up of two sheets of flashed glass; flashed blue glass is on top and flashed ruby glass is underneath (NGI: No. 12074).
The panel was originally made for Thomas Bodkin, Harry’s friend and patron.

The inscription on the plaque at the left side of the cabinet is: Thomas Bodkin left it to his daughter Elisabeth. The inscription on the plaque at the right side of the cabinet reads: D. Costelloe made this cabinet. The poem, the song of the mad prince, by Walter de la Mere is inscribed on the central plaque on the cabinet:


Who said, "Peacock Pie"?
The old King to the sparrow:
Who said, "Crops are ripe"?

Rust to the harrow:
Who said, "Where sleeps she now?

Where rests she now her head,
Bathed in eve's loveliness"?

That's what I said.
Who said, "Ay, mum's the word"?

Sexton to willow:
Who said, "Green dusk for dreams,

Moss for a pillow"?
Who said, "All Time's delight

Hath she for narrow bed;
Life's troubled bubble broken”?

That's what I said.

In the panel, the prince is depicted in Elizabethan-style clothing, with white ruff and pointed shoes. His outer garment is richly patterned with dark blue motifs and golden designs. His father and mother are depicted in profile behind the prince. Both are attired in dark blue patterned robes. The panel’s background is filled with beautiful floral designs in red, gold, green and blue. The panel is signed Harry Clarke 1917 in the bottom right section.




  The Song of the Mad Prince (1917)


National Gallery of Ireland (NGI), Working paper, No. 12074

Photos: National Gallery of Ireland
Text by Lucy Costigan 2009