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Translations by Paddy Bushe
Cló Iar-Chonnachta Indreabhán
ISSN 1 902420 95 0

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This is a handsomely-produced volume of poems by an experienced and accomplished author. The book itself consists of approximately 190 pages of work, totaling fifty-four poems of varying lengths, printed in the original Irish with facing-page translations. The poems are set out stylishly, making them easy to read, and they are unaccompanied by illustrations or explanatory notes. There is a short introduction to the author and his work — more than 100 books, predominantly in Irish — written by Robert Welch.

Given Rosenstock's long and prolific career, it is unsurprising to find that the poems chosen for this volume differ considerably in their style and form. A wide spectrum of metrical formats and stanzaic patterns characterize the volume, yet throughout all of these variations can be heard a consistent and easily recognizable voice. That voice is an intellectual one, eager, searching, at times struggling to define and re-define experiences and reflections of many sorts. It is a voice for which language itself represents a peculiar mixture of opportunities and limitations. As he expresses it in his poem SPRACHE (LANGUAGE), which I'll quote here — ironically enough — in English:

	And when Frank Corcoran
	writes to me from Hamburg
	the medley is wonderful:
	Tipperary Irish
	(I know, it's extinct)
	Maynooth Latin (
	I know…)
	and a few marginal notes
	of faltering glissando.
	I know how he feels.
	These days to say nothing any way reasonable
	is difficult in any language ...
	issaki no kaki ku'u muku wo yurushi oku
	as Yoshiko Yoshino might say
Although Rosenstock's manner throughout the book is typified by striking analytical energy, verbal poise and an engaging portrayal of personal charisma, the actual emotional range of the poems is somewhat narrow. The nearest most of the poems come to a sense of wonder is the confession of confusion in the face of un-resolvable options. Situationally, the poems frequently exist on a plain of ideas across which people traverse, but only upon which knowledge of them is sought by Rosentock's narrators. Here, in a poem entitled A VIEW, is an example of how this interest in passion is withdrawn into contemplation and reflection. Notice how the narrator moves from the point of view of an observer upon others to one upon himself:
	You were stark naked
	looking for your contact lens
	and I bent down
	to help you
	and you, blind as a bat,
	never even noticed
	that it wasn't any little gleam
	under chair or table
	that was urging me on
	but your strange new shape
	crawling on all fours
	like an animal lost in the woods
	and the beast had almost broken out in me
	when your sight was restored to you.
Still, if the poems are not funded primarily by deep feeling and sensation, they are never cold or distant, and there is throughout a robust interrogation of the world in both its quotidian and higher spheres. It is an interrogation given added appeal through the author's breadth of knowledge and skilled craftsmanship.

reviewer: John Ballam.