Philip McDonagh was born in Dublin in 1952 and attended schools in Dublin and Copenhagan, and university in Oxford. As a diplomat he has had postings throughout Europe and between 1994 and 1999 worked at the Irish Embassy in London where he helped to develop the Peace Process. Most recently he has been Irish Ambassador to India. In 1989 he was one of a group of five poets with introductory selections published as Dedalus Introductions and in 2003 published his first full-length collection with Dedalus, Carraroe in Saxony. Since then an expanded work, including this earlier book, has been published in India as Memoirs of an Ionian Diplomat. Philip McDonagh is currently Irish Ambassador to Russia.
"Allusive and melodious, the poems are a wonderful balance of emotion and intellectual control"
[Of the title poem] "It is audacious to invoke the bombing of Dresden in a context of private grief, but it is entirely warranted in this wonderfully sustained long reverie-poem. In fact, the most unusual thing about this book in our era is that the long poems here are consistently the best. The pattern is sustained through the Indian poems of the book's final section which are just as impressive as the Dresden poem."
—The Irish Times
"The governing tonality of this collection is restrained, distanced, the 'voice' has composed itself judiciously before utterance, and yet the undercurrents of affection, ironic frustration, and constant grief are unmistakable... I'm astounded that this important work—in print since 2003—hasn't received the kind of attention it richly deserves. Like Neruda, that other shy diplomat, it's time for Philip McDonagh, already in his fifties, to be acclaimed."
—James J McAuley, Poetry Ireland Review