Monday, September 18, 2023

Micheal O'Siadhail*

Micheal O'Siadhail is Poet-in-Residence at Union Theological Seminary. He is an Irish poet whose poetry is characterized by formalist structures. After having already published more than a dozen previous collections, he set for himself ambitious tasks with his recent books.

His Testament (Baylor University Press, 2022) is O'Siadhail collection of 150 psalms, plus 50 more poems that connect with the stories of the gospels ― a book which numbers 230 pages of poetry.

Even more ambitious is The Five Quintets (Baylor, 2018) ― which is described by Jeremy Begbie as, “…the culmination of an extraordinary life’s work…vast in scope. O’Siadhail attempts nothing less than an exploration of the predicaments of Western modernity as they appear in five fields of human endeavor: science, arts, economics, politics, and philosophy and theology.” This 350-page poem dialogues with such poets as Dante, Donne, Milton, Baudelaire, and T.S. Eliot, but also with dozens of significant historical figures such as Bach, Chagall, Karl Marx, and Margaret Thatcher.

I want to highlight this significant poet at this time, as Micheal O'Siadhail will be the guest of Imago for a reading at Timothy Eaton Memorial Church in Toronto on September 20th, 2023 accompanied by jazz pianist Mike Jansen: (learn more!)

The following submerged sonnet is from the larger work.

From The Five Quintets

John Milton, I admire your self-belief
That you’re another Dante London-born
To set the ways of God in high relief―
I know the cost of what delights you scorn.
Although fame-spurred you live laborious days
With Providence still in the common grain;
To want to prove God’s ways itself betrays
Enlightenment that thinks it must explain.
Rebirth all earned, for you no grace comes free,
Afraid you’ll hide your talent in the earth
While your taskmaster watches from above;
Your judging carpenter from Galilee
Keeps measuring in virtue and self-worth.
How could we justify a God of love?

Posted with permission of the poet.

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

Entry written by D.S. Martin. He is the author of five poetry collections including Angelicus (2021, Cascade) ― a book of poems written from the point-of-view of angels. His books are available through Wipf & Stock.