Saturday, 7 August 2010

Tranquillity of Stone

Tranquillity of Stone is my new collection of poems and has just been published by Lapwing Publications. The cover is by critically-acclaimed artist Maurice Burns. You can preview and read the first few pages at Google Books. Copies are available from the publisher at Lapwing Publications, or directly from me.
It includes a sequence called Sweeny King which is very loosely based on the story of a seventh century king who went mad after being cursed by a christian monk.
The 16th century middle Irish text has been translated by Trevor Joyce and Seamus Heaney and even Flann O'Brien in At Swim Two Birds. Joyce's rendition, which is included in the fantastically titled With The First Dream of Fire They Hunt the Cold, is my favourite.
My own take on the story is by no means a translation, although it does use some of the imagery, but a starting point for a modern take on some of the themes.

from Sweeny King


His skin has been gouged
by bramble and briar
torn by wind-whipped thorn
plucked open by whin
and frozen by snow,
flesh, raw and on fire.
Naked and bleeding
half alive
he shivers under a bush
blood drops quiver
like new-sprung blooms
stolen bundles of fruit.

This second poem is a stand-alone piece and I think is my favourite one in the collection.


The rooks chant vespers
in their leafy stalls,
black-cowled monks
croaking pagan prayers
to their crow god,
late comers circle in twilight,
dark angels among elms
that caw
throaty hymns of praise.


Fionnchú said...

Lovely cover-- trying to make out what it is! I look forward to Mad Sweeney anew, and to whatever else lurks in what appear handsome pages.

Tony Bailie said...

Cover is superb and has caused a bit of speculation. I'll forward you the artists comments. I'll get copy in post to you this week.