This Limerick-based poet and art-school teacher organizes his fourth book of serious, but not humorless, poems around his...

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THE OLD WOMEN OF MAGIONE

This Limerick-based poet and art-school teacher organizes his fourth book of serious, but not humorless, poems around his former life as a Franciscan friar, and how that experience comes to bear on a recent sabbatical in Italy with his wife and son. O'Driscoll (Listening to Different Drummers, 1993, etc.) relies on easygoing rhymes and easeful rhythms in a 14-poem sequence about his visit to Assisi, home of his former order's founder, with its vast monument that seems inappropriate to this most simple of saints. Though he feared the Devil and Martin Luther, the younger O'Driscoll simply wanted to fulfill his carnal urges; seeing ""the phantom of a former self,"" he remembers his inability to reconcile the ""word and world"" with ""an institution growing old."" The poet's spiritual journey diverges into Marxism, alcoholism, and hedonism, and it's only now as father and husband that he's reborn. In the title section, set in Italy, O'Driscoll celebrates the angelic old ladies with their hidden ""wells of tenderness."" A lush piece of poetic prose, with its lavish run-on sentences, luxuriates in olives and basil, and lazing away on the beach. A mandatory Irish love poem (""Love in November"") nicely fills out this quiet volume. Despite occasional slips (for example, an unpleasant image of a""parmesan of dandruff""), O'Driscoll confesses here in high Catholic apostasy, tempered by a gentle wit and new-found sensuality.

Pub Date: July 17, 1998

ISBN: N/A

Page Count: 66

Publisher: Dedalus--dist. by Dufour

Review Posted Online: N/A

Kirkus Reviews Issue: June 1, 1998