"Cynthia" (1604) is a fascinating sonnet sequence by Richard Nugent, a member of a long-established Old English dynasty based in County Meath. The poems which record Nugent's hopeless love for an unyielding mistress subtly transpose many of the reigning conceits of Tudor poetry. "Cynthia" unites the roles of Elizabeth I and a local Irishwoman, simultaneously allegorizing the poet's love of Ireland and his loyalty to the English crown. Nugent's account of the psychic damage wrought by his beloved's cruelty testifies to the difficulties that members of the Old English community had in maintaining these dual and often incompatible allegiances.
Angelina Lynch is an IRCHSS fellow at University College Dublin. Anne Fogarty is professor of James Joyce studies at University College Dublin.