CIX.—DESTRUCTION by Peter O’Neill

after Baudelaire


Constantly at my side this demon hovers;
He swims about me like the impalpable air;
I breathe in and I can feel him burning my lungs
Filling me with guilt and eternal desires.

Sometimes, knowing my deep love of Art,
He takes the form of the most seducing women,
And, with a special pretext,
Bathes my lips with an infamous gloss.

He drives me, far from the eyes of God,
Stumbling and broken by fatigue,
Into the middle of vast deserted plains of boredom,

And throws in my confused eyes
Stained clothes, open wounds,
And all of the bloody accruements of destruction.


I have been reading the writings of Charles Baudelaire for almost thirty years now, and in all that time he can still surprise me. T. S. Eliot famously described him as the father of modernism. But, what did he mean? I think that he was referring to the Copernican shift in Baudelaire’s writing as regards morality. He is Nietzschean in this respect, and yet he was writing before Nietzsche.

There is nobody like him in the English language, and this is simply a fact. In my third collection The Dark Pool, from which the above transversion is taken from, I have tried to take a little of Baudelaire’s nineteenth century aesthetic and bring it to Dublin. Most of the poems were written during the boom, and continue right up to the recession having been written over a period of nine years: 2000-2009.

That is a long time to spend working on a small collection of poems. I was working in various jobs in the city centre at the time, I had just come back from France after having almost spent an entire decade engaged with her. So I was delighted to be back in Ireland and to see the country in a veritable frenzy of dynamic energy.

I think this period of Irish history is perhaps the most exciting and significant since the founding of the state. The social changes which took place were simply phenomenal. As a writer and poet, I certainly fed off this energy.

A lot of the poems, early on in the book, are set in pubs and bars. I was working as a Barman in a very busy pub on Baggot Street at the time. People were coming in to us spending ridiculous amounts of money on alcohol. The promiscuity was incredible. It was as if for those ten or so years the whole city was in one huge fever. As a writer, I felt I was perfectly placed to witness it. I felt, at times , like Scott Fitzgerald – The Great Gatsby!

But I was really borrowing from Baudelaire, particularly from his Tableaux Parisiens. It was a hell of a time. In The Dark Pool I try to capture it.


The Dark Pool will be launched at Donkey Shots, Skerries First International Avant Garde Poetry Festival, 23rd May.


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