Uttering Her Name


SILVIA PIO (edited by)
From Uttering Her Name, by Gabriel Rosenstock, Salmon Poetry 2009

Who is Dar Óma to whom these poems are addressed?
Historically, or mythologically, she is the daughter of the god Oghma who gave the gift of writing to the Celts. Who or what is she in this suite of poems? A muse, a goddess? A vehicle to allow a new form of bhakti-inspired poetry to flourish in the West.


Dar Óma
…….what speeded them on their way?
……………what distances did they travel?
……………..the sky was full of falling stars …
…………………You draw down too much light -
…………………..soon the heavens will all be bare


Dar Óma
I went looking
for You
and found You
in the flight of swallows
in the darkening air
it seemed they wished
to fan the dying sun
to flame


Dar Óma
You are not yet of my time
we do not eat together
sleep together
rise together

I will get up three hundred hours earlier
make toast in the middle of the night
smother it with honey

the moon will look in the window

out on the street
an urban fox

his tail catching
the first light of dawn


Dar Óma
there are no woodpeckers in Ireland
(as far as I know)
I’d love to hear one now
rap-rap-rapping on a tree
as we tap Your mystery

herons we have, of course,
grey sadhus
experts in yoga
standing on one leg
little escapes their scrutiny


Dar Óma
I commissioned a weeping statue of You
and donated it to our cathedral
there are reports of miracles
the blind see
the deaf hear
the crippled walk again
most significantly of all
those in whom the rose of love
had withered
now weep with You


Dar Óma
look at the generations past
black and white photographs
of ambition, hope
simple decency
among them my betrayed mother
the only one among the children
wearing a necklace
like waifs
from Fatima or Knock
awaiting an apparition

I am my mother’s child
my hands by my side
waiting for You to appear


Dar Óma
this bright night of the soul
harbours no dreams,
no sounds

Stretching forever
it spells
Your name
throughout the Milky Way
uttering Your name
……..from uncreated stars


Dar Óma
Your trickster, Your coyote
is called away
to Your vastness
an evaporation
far out at sea
beyond clouds
beyond stars
nothing surprises me

on earth have I not known
wild stretches of eternity
tenderly imprisoned
by eyelashes

release heaven
for the lonely
the dumb

am I being swallowed
or am I the swallower
a diamond-back rattler

release heaven
for the displaced
for criminals
the beast in the field
the bard who dared
utter Your name


Gabriel Rosenstock has been said to be «The greatest living Irish lyric poet» (Peter van de Kamp, Editor Irish Literature) and «A poet of vivid explosions of energy, of moments of insight, of flashes of that which we have never noticed before» (Alan Titley, Irish novelist, story writer, playwright and scholar).

Robert Welch, Editor Oxford Companion to Irish Literature, declares that «Gabriel Rosenstock’s poetry is world poetry», and in fact universal themes can be found in this Uttering Her Name, his first book in English among many of which he is the author and translator, including 13 volumes of poetry in Irish.

The 110 poems in this collection, plus an epilogue of two, are described by the author himself as “neo-bhakti”, a sort of prayer, the personal worship of a goddess belonging to Celtic mythology, Dar Óma, uttered in a modern dry language.

Uttering Her Name has been translated into many languages, including Faroese (a North Germanic language spoken as a native language on the Faroe Islands and in areas of Denmark), Serbian and Japanese; a selection translated in Italian can be found in the Italian page of Margutte.

Gabriel Rosenstock was born in 1949 in Kilfinane, Co. Limerick, in postcolonial Ireland. He is a poet, playwright, haikuist, novelist, essayist, author/translator of over 180 books, mostly in Irish (Gaelic), and a member of Aosdána (Irish academy of arts & letters), of Lineage Holder of Celtic Buddhism,  a former Chairman of Poetry Ireland/Éigse Éireann, a Corresponding Member of the Hellenic Authors’ Society, a Member of the Board of Advisors to Poetry India, an Honorary Life Member of the Irish Translators’ and Interpreters’ Association, an Honorary Member of the European Haiku Society. He taught haiku at the Schule für Dichtung (PoetryAcademy) in Vienna, and at the Hyderabad Literary Festival. He is a translator into Irish of international poetry (among others Ko Un, Seamus Heaney, K. Satchidanandan, Rabindranath Tagore, Muhammad Iqbal, Hilde Domin, Peter Huchel), plays (Beckett, Frisch, Yeats) and songs (Bob Dylan, Kate Bush, The Pogues, Leonard Cohen, Bob Marley, Van Morrison, Joni Mitchell).



THE POET AS A HORSE Conversation with Gabriel Rosenstock by Dr Mícheal Ó hAodha