A native of County Galway, Ireland, and the author of three previous collections, Deeley teaches primary school in Dublin. There, as in all urban areas, civilization’s daily encroachment upon the old gods’ stomping grounds is measured as a diminishment of the power of words to evoke magic. Shopping malls and parking lots blight the countryside; sacred groves are felled for so-called progress and development. But Deeley fails to offer hand-wringing jeremiads in favour of older and deeper truths. He draws upon both pagan and Christian legend as well as the ageless Irish recognition of the woods as a mysterious place of continual death and regeneration.
Here, hazelnuts that offer clear visions of the future, ash trees that heal after each blow of the woodsman’s axe, and yew and apple trees that shade the graves of fallen lovers “twining and fusing in an apotheosis of the love act” are not such strange occurrences.
While his use of Gaelic is minimal, the poet employs a number of seldom-encountered English words—oxter, calp, turlough, conkers, grike—whose meanings are not always clear from context and on whose references less thorough than the Oxford English Dictionary are unlikely to shed light. The samara of the title—the “whirlybird” seeds of maple, ash, and elm trees—is one more example of his insistence upon using the one right word for something. And in suggesting the genetic decoding of these mystical seeds from which entire forests might spring, the poet implies it is our science, our knowing, as much as our concrete and asphalt, that has reduced nature’s power in the human realm.
Deeley restores a degree of the mystery that inheres in the natural world and the magic in the sounds of words.
 

     
 
© Patrick Deeley 2013. All rights reserved.