Monday, January 19, 2015

Micheal O'Siadhail

Micheal O'Siadhail is an Irish poet who has published fifteen books of poetry, including his Collected Poems (Bloodaxe Books, 2013). His first collection, The Leap Year, appeared in 1978. His 2005 collection, Love Life, is about his relationship with his wife, who recently died in June of 2013 after 43 years of marriage.

He quotes Patrick Kavanagh, who he calls the best Irish poet of the 20th century, as saying "that any poet worth his salt is a theologian." He added, "I think he means that what a poet would have in common with a theologian is dealing with questions of meaning and of context, the context of our lives. I often use the phrase 'the ministry of meaning,' and I see an artist as a minister of meaning in many ways. I'm trying to ask the big questions about why we're here, what we're doing."

The following poem is one of three written by Micheal O'Siadhail for N.T. Wright's book Paul and the Faithfulness of God (2013).


Earlier three birds on a tree
But now only one.
Imagine swoops of homing rooks
As evening tumbles in
Cawing and wheeling to gather
In skeleton branches
With nodes of old nest blackening
Into the roosting night.

Treetop colony
A rookery congregates.
Dusky assemblage.

Whatever instinct makes us hoard,
A desire to amass,
Toys, dolls, marbles, bird’s-nests and eggs
We fondle and brood on
Or how we’d swoop like rooks to nab
Spiky windfalls stamping
Open their milky husks to touch,
Smooth marvels of chestnut.

The collector’s dream
To feel, to caress, to keep.
A bird in the hand.

This is the first Kingdom Poets post about Micheal O'Siadhail: second post.

Entry written by D.S. Martin. His latest poetry collection, Conspiracy of Light: Poems Inspired by the Legacy of C.S. Lewis, is available from Wipf & Stock as is his earlier award-winning collection, Poiema.