Category Archives: Poetry

Beds of Down

Beds of Down
Beds of Down

by Brian Lynch
Dublin, Raven Arts Press, 1983

Cover design by Leo Duffy from an illustration in the Poetical Works of William Cowper by Thomas Secombe

The title comes from a famous passage in William Cowper’s great long poem The Task, which begins:

‘And now with nerves new-braced and spirits cheered/ We tread the wilderness’, and goes on to describe ‘the thresher at his task./ Thump after thump resounds the constant flail,/ That seems to swing uncertain, and yet falls/ Full on the destined ear’ – a wonderful phrase – and then goes on: ‘Wide flies the chaff,/ The rustling straw sends up a frequent mist/ Of Atoms sparkling in the noonday beam./ Come hither, ye that press your beds of down/ And sleep not – see him sweating o’er his bread/ Before he eats it – Tis the primal curse,/ But softened into mercy, made the pledge/ Of cheerful days, and nights without a groan.’

I was clearly under Cowper’s influence by 1983, an influence of course that led to the writing of The Winner of Sorrow.

This is the first poem in the book – as can be seen, it has some connection with the Cowper passage, though I don’t think I was aware of the link at the time:

The New Typewriter Ribbon

A new blackness, less penetrable.
What seemed to be an afterthought, tonight
Turns out to be the main thought.
Because of this I don’t go out much
Any more: a blackness that turns –
I have to look now – from left to right
Or from right to left and back again.

A bell rings. The door opens next door
And John Doyle laughs Ha Ha and then
Come in he says I hardly knew ye.

I set to thinking about returned greetings,
About how writing is the purest invitation
And about the time my mother called
And I was found out in the way I said hello,
Being guilty of what I most attacked.

A new blackness, less penetrable, more smudged,
And yet I am ready now and willing,
Both aimed and pierced.

Perpetual Star

Perpetual Star
Perpetual Star

Perpetual Star
by Brian Lynch
Dublin, Raven Arts Press, 1981

cover image by Rosaleen Davey. Back cover photo by Roy Esmonde incorporating a drawing by Rosaleen Davey

Some reviews

Laurels should be placed in a champagne mood on Lynch’s brow for one very great and clear reason. Our culture, notoriously cold in sensual knowledge, has produced here a love poet of absolute integrity. – The Sunday Press

This is highly impressive work. If one is to go into ratings, I rank with this Durcan’s recent collection as the best in Irish poetry today. –Cyphers

Here are some of the finest poems written in Ireland since World War II. – Cork Examiner

No Die Cast

No Die Cast
No Die Cast

No Die Cast
by Brian Lynch
New Writers Press 1969

My second book, also from the New Writers’ Press. Out of print.

This book, comprising seven poems, was never issued to the public. Its history is also somewhat peculiar. One day in 1969, while I was living in Barcelona, teaching English as a foreign language, ‘No Die Cast’ arrived in the post, completely unheralded. My memory is vague, but I can only assume that, following the publication of ‘Endsville’ in 1967 by the New Writers Press (see note below) I must have sent these seven pieces (and perhaps others) to Michael Smith.

As a surprise gift – at the time very welcome I must say – Michael had set them by hand (in 12 point Bodoni) and hand-printed the result on Alabaster Wove paper. The punning title is also his – there was no die cast. His note at the end of the book says ‘Seventy five copies only have been printed’, but he told me subsequently that the setting was so laborious nowhere near that number were bound and that the sheets were stored in his attic – for all I know they may still be there. In fact it’s possible that my copy is the only one in existence.

Two of the pieces, Clap-Hands and Another Morning Poem, have appeared in other collections, most recently, and greatly revised, in New and Renewed – Poems 1967–2004.


Brian Lynch & Paul Durcan
New Writers Press, 1967

My first book, shared with Paul Durcan, and the first book issued under the New Writers’ Press imprint.
Note: The title Endsville does not appear on the cover of the book. Instead, the name of the putative series, New Irish Poets, appears to be the title, and is described as such in some catalogues. To confuse the thing further, New Writers Press were only nominally the publishers. Paul Durcan and I, acting under our own steam, were engaged in having the book printed by the Museum Bookshop (on the corner of Kildare Street and Molesworth Street in Dublin). The proprietor was a man called Chichester-Clark, a relation of a subsequent Northern Ireland Prime Minister, James Chichester-Clark. When Michael Smith told me he was starting the NWP – the first publication on his list was Trevor Joyce’s ‘Sole Glum Trek’ – we agreed that it would be a good idea to use the imprint on ‘Endsville’. But that was the extent of the connection.
The sculptor John Behan did the cover, an ink drawing on a large sheet of paper, which is now lost.
As I remember it, Endsville cost £67 to print, a considerable sum in those days, which came out of my pocket. I can’t remember if it was ever placed on sale in bookshops. The Eblana bookshop in Grafton Street may have taken some copies. If it was sold I don’t think either of us got any money for it.

Paul Durcan and Brian Lynch, Barcelona, 1968

click images to enlarge

Brian Lynch and Paul Durcan Barcelona 1968Paul Durcan and Brian Lynch Barcelona 1968