Songs of Understanding.
Thomas Kinsella's poems often step aside from time. This is not a move out of history, but a dwelling in a suspended moment to allow comprehension to settle into clarity before resuming the business of the quotidian. Perhaps the most elaborate statement of this is 'Tao and Unfitness at Inistiogue on the River Nore', summed up in the final precept: 'Be subtle, as though not there'. It is also to be seen in some of the very early poems: in the title of 'Pause en Route and in the reflected gaze of 'Mirror in February'. In the 1968 Nightwalker volume, the turning back on the self in a moment of self-absorbing reflection is enacted by the 'Leaf-Eater' that 'gropes / Back on itself and begins / To eat its own leaf'. More complexly, in Peppercanister 14, the 'Personal Places' 'absorb in their changes / the radiance of change in us, / and give it back // to the darkness of our understanding'.
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