The Publication of Micheal O’Siadhail’s The Five Quintets

DITA celebrates the publication of ​The Five Quintets b​y Irish-poet Micheal O’Siadhail. It is a work of poetry and cultural history, and it ​o​ffers a sustained reflection on modernity―people and movements―in poetic meter.

The work was commissioned by DITA as part of the ​Theology, Modernity, and the Arts​ (TMA) project, our current major research initiative. ​The TMA project aims to bring theologians and artists together to ask how the arts can help us better understand from a Christian perspective the modern ideas, forces, and movements that have made us who we are. The results are both academic and artistic.

Watch Micheal O’Siadhail read from ​The Five Quintets

In the book’s introduction, O’Siadhail asks: ​how would we describe the contemporary world? He suggests that in order to better understand our present moment and our future trajectory, we must know our history. O’Siadhail spent 9 years writing ​Quintets​ and ​j​ust 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.

Quintets ​converses with modern figures from the arts, economics, politics, science, and philosophy, and it employs numerous poetic techniques without compromising lucidity. ​“I’ve always wanted to be intelligible. Anybody who wants to read poetry, I would like them to understand my work,” O’Siadhail said. Across the range of figures, topics, and techniques is the theme of praise for God the Creator, Redeemer, and Sustainer. In the last section of the book, the speaker looks upon creation and describe its width, breadth, and depth as “a choreography of praise.”


>> ​The Five Quintets​ is available now from Baylor University Press


>> Read a profile of Micheal O’Siadhail in Commonweal Magazine