These delicates he heap´d with glowing hand
On golden dishes and in baskets bright
Of wreathed silver: sumptuous they stand
In the retired quiet of the night,
Filling the chilly room with perfume light.—
“And now, my love, my seraph fair, awake!
“Thou art my heaven, and I thine eremite:
“Open thine eyes, for meek St. Agnes´ sake,
“Or I shall drowse beside thee, so my soul doth ache.”
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.