Ciaran Carson

Ciaran Carson’s recent books include In the Light Of (adaptions from Rimbaud’s Illuminations) and a novel, Exchange Place.

Two Poems

Ciaran Carson, 4 July 2013

after Francis Ponge


As for the sponge, so for the orange: the aspiration to regain face after being wrung into expression. However, the sponge

succeeds always, the orange never, segments burst, its inner being squeezed to mush. Only the peel springs, albeit flabbily and slowly, back into shape;

and yes, the consequential amber juice is fragrant, cool and sweet, but then too often comes...

Poem: ‘The Story of Alouette’

Ciaran Carson, 18 October 2007

You were telling me a story of your great-grandmother’s over a bottle of Burgundy by a bubbling fire.

Deep in the Forest of Language there dwelt a manikin not called Rumpelstiltskin. His name was not that important.

One day a riderless mare trotted to a halt at his door. The manikin brought her to stable and fed her some hay.

He was surprised when the mare upped and spoke in the...

Two Poems

Ciaran Carson, 7 September 2006


we found Red Hand Commando masks and combat uniforms laid neatly in the attic

along with some bomb-making literature and a token cache of weeping gelignite

like their men had just gone off to mutilate their hand-guns with shipyard angle-grinders

and we had taken them at their word for what it is worth which is to say that peace comes

when there is no one left to kill and words are the...

Poem: ‘Opus Operandi’

Ciaran Carson, 27 May 1993


Fatima handed out twelve teaching modules of the ‘empathy belly’ To the variously expectant fathers. Some were Paddy, and some were Billy.

Today’s lesson was the concept ‘Orange’. They parsed it into segments: some were kith, And some were kin. They spat out the pips and learned to peel the pith.

Then the deep grammar of the handshake, the shibboleths of aitch...

Poem: ‘Hamlet’

Ciaran Carson, 2 March 1989

As usual, the clock in the Clock Bar was a good few minutes fast, A fiction no one really bothered to maintain, unlike the story The comrade on my left was telling, which no one knew for certain truth:Back in 1922, a sergeant, I forget his name, was shot outside the National Bank ... Ah yes, what year was it that they knocked it down? Yet, its memory’s as fresh As the inky smell of new...

Throughout the 19th century, Italian critics attributed to Dante’s Commedia the formal and linguistic unity they desired for their country. It is ‘a national Bible’, de Sanctis...

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The Gunman

Denis Donoghue, 27 November 1997

I made my first visit to Belfast when I was almost 11, late in 1939. The war had just started, and Italy had joined Germany in aggression. My father was the sergeant-in-charge of the Royal Ulster...

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Mark Ford, 19 January 1989

This is Ciaran Carson’s second collection of poems. His first, The New Estate (1976), revealed an intricate, lyrical poet intensely aware of traditional Irish cultures, and concerned to...

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