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Poems 2011-2012

Dennis O'Driscoll

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Imprint: Anvil Press Poetry
Publisher: Carcanet Press
Available as:
Paperback (64 pages)
(Pub. Oct 2014)
£9.95 £8.96
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    The Rocks

    The rocks are determined
    to spend each second well.
    They calculate on a geologic
    scale the time they can still

    reckon on, and have no
    expectation of escaping
    the sun’s blowout, predicted
    in a mere five billion years.

    Stoically, they hold their nerve,
    adapt calmly to their limited prospects,
    expand or contract as each
    season’s heat or cold demands.

    Intent on making the best
    of things, they treat each day
    as though it were the last, use
    their time enjoyably while they may.

    They will be dust long enough.



    Hard though I know
    you find this to believe,
    I was actually alive once.
    Alive. And well enough,
    at least, to play my part.

    I too faced heartaches, disappointments,
    embarrassments and vanities
    not all that unlike yours, kept up
    with the pressing issues of the day,
    registered weather’s moodiness

    on my skin, brooded on the big
    life-and-death questions when
    I indulged my more reflective traits.
    And if it’s any consolation,
    it feels no less strange to me now

    to conceive that I was truly
    such a creature once,
    and had some small say in how
    the world – as it stood at that
    time – conducted its affairs.

    That my birth would not make
    a blind bit of difference,
    in the final analysis, does not
    negate my life, and counts
    for precious little against

    the surges of unbounded joy
    I felt, on better days, imagining
    my highest hopes were still fulfillable.
    There was everything to live for then.
    It was all before me.

    After the completion of Dear Life, his highly praised ninth collection of poems, Dennis O’Driscoll kept his finished poems in a computer file called ‘Newest Poems’, subtitled ‘Since completion of Dear Life’ and ‘April 2011–’. This book reproduces its complete contents. The title we have given it, from an outstanding poem, signifies one important aspect of the collection: that it forms a substantial update to the body of his published work.

    Despite the collection’s provisional and unfinished nature (since the poet surely hoped to add to it and prepare it for publication), the 33 poems are ones which his many readers will want to have. Darker even than much of Dear Life, they are full of his inimitable humour, his searching eye, his characteristic wit and wisdom.

    Dennis O’Driscoll (1954–2012) was born in Thurles, Co. Tipperary. Apart from nine collections of poetry, books published during his lifetime included a selection of essays and reviews, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams (2001), two collections of literary quotations and Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (2008). Among his awards were a Lannan ... read more
    Awards won by Dennis O'Driscoll Short-listed, 2001 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Weather Permitting) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life) Winner, 2013 Irish Times Literary Prize,Irish Poetry (Dear Life)
    Praise for Dennis O'Driscoll 'Carcanet has done a great job in collating work from his various collections with some revised and new poems... O'Driscoll's work should be read and re-read, as a sort of 'life' of a poet and scholar who worked outside academe and literary theory, deep in the bowels of the everyday, where flesh-and-blood experiences strive to make their own poetry.'
    John Wakeman, Books Ireland
      ''To rinse the world in rose water before you write is to bear false witness''. This is the challenge that O'Driscoll took on board - to face the workaday world we might have thought we'd risen above. He, and his discerning overview, are much missed. His Collected Poems are welcomed.'
    Dundee University Review of the Arts
       'His voice is one of the most distinctive of his generation.'
    John McAuliffe, The Irish Times
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