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Gog and Magog: post-modernist timepiece.

Byline: Reprint from Subterranean Blue Poetry

Title of Book: Gog and Magog

Author: Ciaran O`Driscoll

Publisher: Salmon Publishing

Date of Publication: 1987

Pages: 42

"If I should fall from grace with god
Where no doctor can relieve me
If I'm buried 'neath the sod
And still the angels won't receive me"
-from If I should fall from grace with god by The Pogues

Gog and Magog is a simmering drastic in poetry on the “weather” of Ireland in the late 1980`s during the last of sectarian violence at the end of the Twentieth Century. Ciaran O’Driscoll is a Poet/Writer born in Ireland and living in Limerick. He has won literature awards and written 8 books of poetry.

A slow winding narrative, disjointed thoughts, sometimes blunt, sometimes rolling, lends itself to the post-modernist school. The poems dwell in a series of apparently nondescript descriptions, as if painted edges, that winde into a larger picture, as if talking around the center of a storm. As if there is an argument that you can’t name, a war actually, with great violence (and perhaps a hidden personal dialectic). In Ireland, at this time it was a social taboo to talk of the sectarian violence, the times of violence are known as the Troubles. And so the poems in their way are rife with talk. At times the imagery dwells in war, with very violent images that are balanced with the classical essence of nature imagery.


(copperwork figure in a pub, Co Galway)

The entry wound is under the right elbow - here.

And as you can see the neck of the fiddle has

struck the heart. In fact almost the whole fiddle

has entered the body. Only the head and feet

remain intact.

Each arm, each leg, is fifteen fragments;

the trunk an archipelago, a jigsaw

presided over by the moonstruck face.

A relic of geansaí adheres to the neck;

lapels of a vanished coat. A straw hat

crowns this extraordinary apparition.

It fidgets forward in fine copper boots,

its own backbone for walking stick.

A king of shreds and patches, gentlemen, held

together by no thread of consequence. Note how the

fixed grin belies the fact that the night sky floats

through the wounds.

The work is entirely enigmatic and of revelation, all in the same breath, at times fantastical as if someone driven by bizarre circumstances into a very dark humor. The use of language and style is art nouveau, an original take on poetic climes.


It was my wedding day: I remember the

neck of a beer bottle sticking out of my

coat pocket, and someone joking, ‘You’re

armed well.’

And we thought it was a joke

until the major’s wife came in.

We saw that she was crying, and believed

it then.

In Belarus, we have a good memory

for things like that: not far from here,

a village was burned with everyone in


and there’s a copper bell

on the site of every house

that tinkles in the wind,

reminding us.

The title Gog and Magog borrows from Biblical quotes in Ezekiel and Revelations, a prophescy of war against Israel, where God will be called upon to strike down the enemy. In terms of good against evil, and the desire for peace, the analogy is a sticking point. A new take on the violent Western cultural dialectic, and particularly the violence in Ireland, perhaps prophetic, a timepiece in post-modernist poetics 30 years passed. Gog and Magog by Ciaran O’Driscoll.

Available @ OBOOKO.

Genre: Poetry

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