What the Curlew Said: "Nostos" Continued
'Now again I live in a river-mirrored house, the house a cottage, and the river that mirrors it broadening out twice a day into an estuary lake fished by otters and herons and, when the salmon are running, by a sole old seal. One of the herons I know. Screeching and croaking an angelus that announces only himself, he comes in flying low over the water and, the rhetoric of his wingfolding perfect, he stands there, outstandingly, poised for the kill. Young though he is in this lifetime, he is old in incarnations. Night not in them even when he closes them, his eyes are for opening outwards only. Outwards always. Even in sleep. Him especially. Him looking so priestly, so poised for death-dealing in his chasuble of fine feathers. Him, if I could, I would talk to.' This autobiography, a sequel to Nostos, concludes the story of John Moriarty's life in Connemara during the 1980s and subsequent return to his native Kerry. He writes with compelling detail about his time at Roundstone and environs, restoring gardens at Leitirdyfe House and Lisnabrucka, and building his own house at Toombeola. He reflects on his Kerry childhood and the death of his father; he describes his adopted family, a sortie to Dublin for Christmas, the writer Tim Robinson, and his neighbourhood and community; he celebrates the returned pine martens and the fauna and flora of a historic landscape; he undertakes a lecture tour in Canada organized by his former students; and throughout he engages with the immensities of the natural and spiritual worlds that form his habitat. In this posthumously published work, completed just weeks before his death, John Moriarty calls to account the literatures and legacies of European thought made manifest in the western extremities of Ireland. They bore witness to his own inner and outer journey, now documented in this compelling, writerly masterwork.