Two weeks before his death, at the age of thirty-nine, Seán Dunne presented to The Gallery Press, Time and the Island, his third collection of poems
‘I have given up doubt,
That old worn-out coat.
All that’s constant
Is the fact of change:
Pearl of love, grit of pain.’
Time and the Island returns to already visited themes — loneliness, solitude, and the comfort of companionship comprehended in the natural world. There are familiar points of reference, including a number of courageous thinkers (Akhmatova, Lafcadio Hearne and Thomas Merton), and now recognisable delicate touches. In these last poems, Seán Dunne’s style and tones are perfected. They show respect for ‘things in their proper place’ and reveal the achieved wisdom that ‘it all comes down in the end to these’.
In the final ten years of his life, Seán Dunne’s work as a poet was developing from strength to strength, as he shed unnecessary defences and mannerisms to become one of the country’s finest lyric poets. The imaginative shift — which took him from his first collection, Against the Storm (1985) to The Sheltered Nest (1992) was one of poetic concentration and confidence in his own limitations. . . . his poems are like cut-glass: crafted, ceremonial and full of prismatic light . . . Time and the Island is the most self consciously crafted volume of poems I have read for some time. In it a meditative calm surrounds issues of faith and hope.— Gerald Dawe, The Irish Times