` (`Reilly Caitriona)


The Sea Cabinet

Sometimes you trawl a book of poetry, and find nothing of interest. Sometimes you find resonance in only a few words. At other times you find a few nice lines, or verses, and now and then even a poem. Probably only a few times in a lifetime will an entire collection ensnare you. Dubliner, Caitriona O Reilly "The Sea Cabinet" comes as a Poetry Book Society recommendation, so you might, if you have any faith at all in your fellow poetry readers, hope to find at least some of the above enumeration within.

Of delectable words, there is no doubt. For the poet has been thinking about this in Calculus herself.

I collect fine words the way others collect birdsy eggs:
For kestrelsy I have roseapple; for wrensy pearlworth.

Of lines, the greatest to my mind, comes from the Deaf Manâs House, in part III, The Sleep of Reason:

I have heard nothing for many years
but the animal-breath of madness
in my ear.

In But do the Girdle do the Gods Inherit, we can also excise the following thoughtful and haunting construction:

Imagine how it is with us: our stone implements,
our combs and early mirrors, ceding
no reflection. Even to ourselves unknown.

Of the collection itself, I'll admit that not all of it has hooked me, one or two of the poems seemed rushed and too impatient to be born, although with their scattered wanderings and naturalism I can see why they might appeal to others. But certainly there is enought here, to justify picking up a copy. In particular, of a poem, Ied recommend The Sea Cabinet. I really love it. In it O Reilly, follows a lead from Mellvilles Moby Dick âœThere is a Leviathanic museum, they tell me, in Hull, Englands, to the Town Docks Museum in Hull, whereupon she encounters The Sea Cabinet, a historically compromised display of the seafaring past. In doing so, O Reilly does with wonderful skill, what the actual Hull Sea Cabinet itself seemingly fails to do: she retrieves into our space, the world of frozen artic seas, the people above them, and the mammals below them. When she is not bringing this world to you, she is transporting you to that world. A world which is at once tragic and beautiful. If you are a fan of Shackleton, Crean, and Whale tales in general, you~ll love this quintet: The Ship, The Mermaid. The Esquimaux, The Unicorn, The Whale. It's that good, I'm convinced I'll still be reading them many many years from now.

Disappointingly, O'Reilly and Bloodaxe have picked Many Ferries byJack B Yeats as a cover painting. There are few who doubt the painter's
genius, but unfortunately in Ireland right now, Yeats is fast becoming a worn out hero. Because he is wheeled out at every opportunity,
for every occasion great or small, at this point his paintings elicit
little more than a sigh and sense of cliche.

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