Collected Poems 1956-2000
by Thomas Kinsella
Kinsella is one of the finest poets of the last century, in Ireland or out of it." Justin Quinn, Poetry Review
" 'TOGETHER, both as one, / We lifted our dripping blades in the dying light …'— the haunting, Dantean river journey of Thomas Kinsella's 'Downstream' makes other poems inspired by the brooding Tuscan seem like homework.
And when the poem's imagery of a skiff moving under starry skies effortlessly shifts to stark visions of a concentration camp's 'tall chimneys flickering,' one wonders why this Irish poet isn't as revered as Seamus Heaney.
Wake Forest University Press' Collected Poems makes the case for this singular poet of enormous depths."
Nick Owchar, Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Collected Poems is a compilation of fifty years of poetry by a complex and intellectually demanding poet. Kinsella's early books, of the 1950s and 1960s, include occasional poems, traditional lyrics and longer poems and sequences on themes ranging from history to politics. There are speculative narratives in local settings, such as "A Country Walk" and "Downstream," and family poems of close observation, with a growing mythical and allegorical element. He soon began to critique the formal qualities of these early, eloquent lyrics for what he called their 'pointless elegance.' Consequently, in the poetry of the seventies, Kinsella endeavors to strip his style of superfluous ornamentation in an effort to uncover his real subject. Despite some very public poems, such as "Butcher's Dozen," on the Bloody Sunday shootings in Derry in 1972, there is a turning downward into the psyche, toward origin, myth and individuation. In Kinsella's late poems, the poetic mission is fulfilled in an atmosphere of risk and danger, as the poet proves himself equal to the difficult task of intellectual life in the early 21st century.
In the name of the Father
in the name of the spirit
gland of matter
blind staring bowel of being
in the name of the senses
in their binary responding groves
deign, O crushed lips, pursed
in the woman dark
where'er you walk
beneath his kiss.
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