I am sticking my neck out to declare: Micheal O’Siadhail’s book-length poem, The Five Quintets, is the most important work of English-language literature that has been published so far this century. O’Siadhail’s towering achievement melds reflections on the arts, economics, politics, philosophy and, fascinatingly, science into lyrical verse that transfixes the reader. He urges we enter a paradise of compromise, love and engagement, whilst crisscrossing the disabling specialisms that bedevil our time.
Inspired in particular by Dante Alighieri’s thirteenth century journey through heaven, hell and purgatory in The Divine Comedy, O’Siadhail introduces us to men especially, and women, who have shaped, and distorted, our modernity. The Italian poet himself is channelled, offering to guide O’Siadhail’s journey through hell to ‘heaven’s vertigo’, ‘And summing up an era work the seam / Between the modern world and its aftermath’.