‘Patternes of rebellion’
Derricke’s rebel poems
in John Derricke’s The Image of Irelande: with a Discoverie of Woodkarne
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The final sections of John Derricke's Image of Irelande, containing the contrasting tales of Rory Oge O’More and O’Neale, contain a shift of focus, metre and rhyme scheme. When the narrative perspective changes to that of Rory, Derricke drops into a ballad form of sorts. Both this form and the format of the condemned criminal lamenting his wicked life echo a popular early modern genre: criminal biography. Yet while there are similarities of format, there are also important differences between ‘biographical’ pamphlets and broadsheets and Derricke's rebel biographies – most notably that he contrasts the tale of an unrepentant rebel with that of a repentant one. This chapter compares the final section of The Image of Irelande to early modern criminal biography and proposes that Derricke adapted the popular genre to serve his main purpose of glorifying Sir Henry Sidney, who is a central character in the accounts of both rebels’ lives.

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