Ciaran Carson’s series of seventy-seven sonnets begins, literally, in never-land, ‘where everything is metaphor and simile’, and rushes onwards to the twelfth of never.
His alexandrine lines conduct us from revolutionary France and Ireland through Imperial Japan, a journey accelerated by references to hallucinogenics, snatches of traditional Irish songs, and jigs and reels. The poppy recurs as an emblem of peace and the opium wars, as the author’s metrics hold in delicate balance the sights and second sights, metamorphoses and disembodiments found between ‘eternities and temporary halts’.
The Twelfth of Never is Ciaran Carson’s most appealing book since The Irish for No (1987). Intent on liberty, its playful narratives and flittings offer glimpses of ‘the imminent republic of the future’.