Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams presents a welcome selection of Dennis O’Driscoll’s reviews and essays on contemporary poetry in English and in translation; it contains also a number of personal reﬂections, including a colourful evocation of a Tipperary childhood. The state of Irish poetry, the ‘insider dealings’ of the poetry world, the enduring inﬂuence of East European poetry — the subjects surveyed in this lively and discriminating book are eclectic and diverse.
As the author writes in the introduction, Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams offers ‘an option on the casual dip as well as the methodical trawl’. Readers in search of a map of the maze of contemporary poetry will discover in Dennis O’Driscoll a generous guide, while seasoned readers of the poetry of John Berryman, Seamus Heaney, Wislawa Szymborska — and many other poets from Ireland and abroad — will ﬁnd their pleasure enhanced by the insights which his criticism abundantly provides.
Troubled Thoughts, Majestic Dreams is a bumper book, a rich sampling of O’Driscoll’s notes, essays and reviews. Perceptive, sometimes provocative, always evincing a lively engagement with prominent and lesser known poets, these pieces are sure to stimulate readers to revisit poets of old acquaintance or seek out the work of poets overlooked. Dennis O’Driscoll, of the Customs Office in Dublin, a fine poet in his own right, deserves to be assured that there will be readers following his example, after the day job’s over, lights burning well into the night. — Andrew Sant, Critical Survey Vol 15, No.2