I recently caught on RTE Radio One an interview with Irish poet Dennis O’Driscoll. I’d never heard his work before and the interview finished with a recitation of his extraordinary poem ‘Someone‘. It’s a remarkable poem, stunning, dramatic, arresting. It grabs you deceptively with its ordinary everyday words and revolutionizes one’s viewpoint on the ordinary, helping us to realize the great fragile transitory and fleeting magnificence of life. Like a funnel, we rethink our habitual awareness of the everyday, the things we take for granted – an erection, eating buttered toast, saluting the neighbours, listening to the weather forecast – and the poem transforms our awareness of the banal. Someone today is doing all those ordinary things for the last time. And becoming aware of that transforms our consciousness to live each moment – this moment – to the full.
Someone who is going about his ordinary business today is doing so for the very last time. Much of the genius of the poem is that that one word – Someone – is imbued with new meaning and that single word evokes the whole poem and its simple yet profound wisdom.