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Ciaran O'Driscoll

1943, Ireland

CIARAN O’DRISCOLL was born in Callan, Co. Kilkenny in 1943 and lives in Limerick. He is a member of Aosdána and a committee member of Cuisle Limerick City International Poetry Festival.
    He has published six collections of poetry, including Gog and Magog (Salmon, 1987) and his New and Selected Poems, Moving On, Still There (Dedalus, 2001). He has won a number of awards for his work, including the Patrick and Katherine Kavanagh Fellowship in Poetry. Selected poems in Slovene translation, Nadzorovanje Zivljenja, was published by KUD France Prešeren in 2013.
    Liverpool University Press published his childhood memoir, A Runner Among Falling Leaves, in 2001. His gothic novel, A Year’s Midnight, was published in 2012. 
    Reviewing his most recent poetry collection Life Monitor (Three Spires Press, 2009) in The Irish Times, Eamonn Grennan wrote of Ciaran O’Driscoll as "a poet in confident possession and exercise of his craft. [His] poems do what good poems should do, widening and deepening the world for the rest of us."

(Golden Boat Workshop, Skocjan 2008)

Morning of wind and clouds and stinging nettles,
of pines and limestone’s dizzying falls,
wild chicory, orange lily, the smoke bush
plotting its riot of winter flames.

How irresistible is your body now,
bathing in a pool of the Reka River
or walking to a free translator’s dinner
through homesteads honoured as towns by roadside names

or sitting sun-kissed on a ledge of rock,
a Buddha showered with sunlit leaves?
How taken are you by the beauties here
in a landscape of sinkholes and abysses?

One calls you by your name and suddenly
a transient poet is at ease,
morning a mottled light on water and stone
as the river enters the cave, then disappears.


The white mule’s throat marks the passing of time,
an angelus braying. The tide has one tune for always,
a tune with a turning. Mussels in rock crevices
pray for the sea to turn its tune, to come back
swollen with nutrients, swill over them again.
The sky and the sea are quite an item, and lead
an exemplary couple’s life: one is not bright
while the other is dark, though on some skyless days
the sea in the distance seems to laugh to itself,
as if not just the presence but the thought of the sky
could brighten it. The tide has one tune for always,
and the bray of the white mule marks time for the land,
its pale green fields, its hillocks, cottages and crows.
I would speak backwards as a child, into my throat,
and everyone laughed at the strange ebbing sound of words.


If you go from the small to the bigger picture,
a sparrow scampering away from you,
running along the path at the side
of the house, not flying, not taking off,
if you include the stone wall with its crevices,
gaps where the mortar has crumbled,
a man-made cleft in stone to hold a key,
if you include a nest somewhere, the sparrow running
to draw you away, a decoy manoeuvre,
if you include the teetering stems of roses
rising for light, if you include montbretia,
that’s red and orange so far and a brown bird,
if you include the ivy’s green
and the russet-and-gold creeper, move up
and beyond them to the children screaming
in the school playground behind the wall,
that’s three o’clock and includes time
as well as space, if you pause in your watching
to light a cigarette, that’s an issue of health,
addiction and satisfaction, reflection
on the history of the tobacco leaf,
if you reflect on the question of why
you began with a sparrow and remember
you wanted to know where it would lead you,
if it’s leading you away from the nest
or if it’s running scared and no nest there,
if you search for the nest in the crevices
man-made in stone or gaps in the mortar
and pausing to look at the high roses
leads your eye to a break in the clouds
and the sparrow is overshadowed by
a plane with its landing lights blinking,
if soon it will be night and no way back,
only the questions in your sleepless head –
what is this sparrow, where does it come from,
where does the whole universe come from,
what’s cosmic about a solitary sparrow,
do the children shout in the playgrounds
of their dreams, do they dream of tomorrow,
if tomorrow is possible, if the night
is such a wide river to have to cross...

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author's texts

Literary association IA


Agnieszka Będkowska-Kopczyk
Agnieszka Żuchowska-Arendt
Alenka Jovanovski
Alenka Koderman
Alja Adam
Amir Talić
Andraž Polič
Andrea Brady
Andrej Hočevar
Anja Sredić
Anupama Amaran
Barbara Korun
Barbara Pogačnik
Barbara Siegel Carlson
Bojan Brecelj
Catherine Phil MacCarthy
Ciaran O'Driscoll
Cristina Viti
Darija Žilić
David Brooks
Dejan Koban
Dinko Telećan
Dražen Katunarić
Emilio Coco
Esa Hirvonen
Fiona Sampson
Francisco Larios
Gašper Malej
Gašper Torkar
Glorjana Veber
Goran Janković
Goran Č. Potočnik
Goro Takano
Gregor Podlogar
Hana Kovač
Henning H. Bergsvåg
Hiroshi Hasebe
Christophe Lamiot Enos
Ineke Holzhaus
Irena Šťastná
Isabella Panfido
Ivan Landžev
Iztok Osojnik
Jacek Lenkiewicz
Jan Kuhlbrodt
Ján Gavura
Jana Šnytová
Jani Kovačič
Johanna Venho
John Davies
John O'Donoghue
Jonáš Hájek
Jouni Inkala
Kelly Lenox
Knute Skinner
Kristina Hočevar
Ksenija Premur
Ksenija Jus - Xenia
Lenka Krajnc
Maciej Melecki
Maja Novak
Marcin Warmuz
Maria Jastrzebska
Marianna Kurtto
Marjan Strojan
Mark Whelan
Marta Podgórnik
Martina Komárková
Martina Hefter
Matej Krajnc
Michał Kopczyk
Michele Obit
Milan Jesih
Miroslava Gavurová
Muanis Sinanović
Paddy Bushe
Pamela Uschuk
Paul Polansky
Pauliina Haasjoki
Petra Kolmančič
Primož Čučnik
Radharani Pernarčič
Roberto Nassi
Robin Parmar
Simona Popescu
Slavo Šerc
Srečko Kosovel
Stephen Watts
Špela Drnovšek Zorko
Špela Sevšek Šramel
Tahir Mujičić
Taja Kramberger
Takako Arai
Tatjana Jamnik
Tina Kozin
Tone Škrjanec
Urška P. Černe
Vilja-Tuulia Huotarinen
Ville Hytönen
Vlado Kreslin
Willem van Toorn
William Pitt Root
Zlati Čoln 2010