The Five Quintets

On October 25, 2018 the Rivendell Center for Theology and the Arts and the Yale Institute of Sacred Music hosted the renowned Irish poet Micheal O’Siadhail for the launch and reading of his magnum opus The Five Quintets at Sterling Memorial Library, Yale University. 

Read more below about this important new work by Micheal O’Siadhail.

The Five Quintets

Renowned Irish poet Micheal O’Siadhail’s magnum opus explores human culture through the arts, economics, politics, science, and philosophy and theology.

The Five Quintets offers a sustained reflection on modernity—people and movements—in poetic meter. Just as Dante, in his Divine Comedy, summed up the Middle Ages on the cusp of modernity, The Five Quintets takes stock of a late modern world on the cusp of the first-ever global century.

O’Siadhail structures his Quintets to echo the Comedy. Where Dante had a tripartite structure (Inferno, Purgatorio, and Paradiso), O’Siadhail has a five-part structure, with each quintet devoted to a discipline. Each quintet is also marked by a different form: sonnets interspersed by haikus (“saikus”), iambic pentameter, terza rima, and two other invented forms.

The Five Quintets captivates even as it instructs, exploring the ever-changing flow of ideas and the individuals whose contributions elicited change and reflected their times. The artists, economists, politicians, scientists, and philosophers O’Siadhail features lived complex lives, often full of contradictions. Others, though deeply rooted in their context, transcended their time and place and pointed beyond themselves—even to us and to a time after modernity’s reign.

MICHEAL O’SIADHAIL is an internationally acclaimed poet whose works include Collected Poems and One Crimson Thread. He is Distinguished Poet in Residence at Union Theological Seminary in New York City, where he lives.

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