Cyphers (cover) CYPHERS is one of Ireland's longest established literary magazines. Founded by Leland Bardwell, Pearse Hutchinson, Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin and Macdara Woods, CYPHERS places a strong emphasis on creative work, and has published poetry, prose, graphics and reviews by many distinguished writers, translators and artists. It has been published continuously since 1975. The official CYPHERS website, with contact and subscription details, is

You can scroll down this page to read work by five poets in English and Irish from issues of CYPHERS in the 1990s, or you can link to personal pages about two of the editors:

Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin
Macdara Woods

To subscribe to the magazine, write to CYPHERS,
3 Selskar Terrace, Ranelagh, Dublin 6, Ireland,
or send an e-mail to the editors.

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Miquel Martí Pol


Ring the island with fingers of wind and hope
that the gods, benignant, would bring it nearer.
You who have never seen it, yet still remember it,
like a desire that incites you and creates surroundings
that favour dreams and melancholy.
Ring the island and you shall be able to travel it,
closing your eyes, from this your very silence,
spoiling neither clarity nor rhythm.
Lucidly absorbed, think of Menorca,
always at the limit of time, like a landmark
that recovers the warmest pearldawn glow
and turns it into marvelous shine,
into sand, into sea, into stone and mystery.
This is the treasure that no question
lays bare, that vibrates
behind the burning secret of the glance
like a deep space that resonates.
Think "Menorca" and say in a low voice
names at random, of hamlets and coves,
until your gesture transfigures itself and you feel
your blood beat to the rhythm of the island.

Translated by Seán Golden

Julie O'Callaghan


Someone says
there's a law against barges
in January.
Buddy boy over there
wants to know
what you're loaded with
that couldn't wait for April.
It's obvious to the panel
you are from Indiana
headed for Wisconsin.
Miss Know-all swears she can see
teensy tugs beside your bows
so she figures you must have
an important cargo of SOMETHING.
I see you as an optical illusion
travelling over the left shoulder of my father
to his right shoulder - just below his ear.
Another focuses the telescope on you
and tells us your name is 'Ulysses S. Grant'
- that's a relief to us all.
But you're moving right along
so, now, even when we stand to one side
and squint out the window
you're history
as a topic around here.

Orla Murphy


In April, the tortoiseshells awake,
stretch in corners, above beams, behind books
and palpate the velvet dark.
Wings whispering on glass release me
from the brambled rows of pencil-marks
that disturb the parallel grey lines with words,
but when I cup my hands
about the burnt sienna blur,
its life stills
in the palm's

Fingers unlock and the erect wings
lie down in the sun,
twin palettes startled beyond brown and orange,
white and black,
to lapis lazuli and points of gold.

It stays beneath my hand,
then staggers off,
searching for its discrete space
in the bland ubiquity of light.

Eamon Grennan


A little stream of sound spills over the edge
and floats down as the two blue parakeets
twitter and screech, their wings
battering at bars and each other: the air

over my head where I lie on the couch
becomes a drift of seed-husks glittering yellow
in the light they pass through coming down,
each glinting and going out like a mote, a
forgiven beam, until the bittersweet frenzy

ceases suddenly and there's silence only broken
by a whistle or two of tuneless music, the whisper
of wings brushing bars, the birds jabbering
a plain patois of aftermath, angry and mournful.

Gréagóir Ó Dúill


Scríobhaim ceithre litir ainme sa ghaineamh fhliuch
Amhail rian ceithre choiscéim droim dubh mhóir, ag rith chun eitilte,
Ach líonann na línte de sháile ghoirt, titeann na bruacha beaga,
Ní eitlíonn.

Ag siúl dom ar chlocha glasa an chladaigh
Ní fheicim éan go n-éalaí sí uaim san eitilt:
Scaothóga beaga faoi imeagla,
Mná rialta de roilleacha ag clamhsán,
Corr éisc innealta ag imeacht i leataobh, beag uirthi mé.

Tuigeann sí fá mhaide tine an fhir, a bhradán uaidh,
Agus imíonn si ais amach ar an tsáile sula dtagaim.
Ní fheicim ach rian a lapaí sa ghaineamh, scríob iongacha a crúb,
Go dtionntaím go tobann, agus sin í, deich slat uaim, ag faire orm.
Tumann sí láithreach de chasadh láidir eireabaill, is ní fhilleann.

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