Brendan Kennelly, iconoclastic poet who rose to fame after appearing in The Late Late Show – obituary


The show host called a number to contact the winner of a quiz, only to learn that the girl who sent in the winning answer had died in a car accident two days earlier. When Byrne asked Kennelly if he had any words of consolation for the victim’s mother, the poet recited a first play, “Begin,” with tears in his eyes. The final lines are: “Although we live in a world that dreams of ending / that always seems to be on the verge of giving way / something that won’t recognize the conclusion / insists that we start forever.” “

It has become his best-known poem, although it brings together his lyrical gifts and compassion as a person, it is not quite characteristic of his work.

It tended to be propelled by a urge to repeat and play with voices, ranging from small poems that could take on the voice of an island, sea, bread – to whole tomes that shut down doors.

There was a message. In Cromwell and The Book of Judas it was about the nature of evil, and Kennelly explored, almost to the point of exhaustion, the idea that people can do bad things, but with intentions they consider it good. He felt this was a feature of Irish life and reflected: “The process of unlearning hate is a real insult to some, especially those whose prejudices are called convictions.” If Kennelly had an intimate understanding of poetry, it came in part from his academic work: he was professor of modern literature at Trinity College Dublin from 1973 to 2005.

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