Thomas Kinsella (born 4 May 1928) is an Irish poet, translator, editor, and publisher.
Kinsella was born in Inchicore, Dublin. He spent most of his childhood in the Kilmainham/Inchicore area of Dublin. He was educated at the Model School, Inchicore, where classes were taught through the medium of the Irish language, and at the O'Connell Schools in North Richmond Street, Dublin. His father and grandfather both worked in Guinness's Brewery. He entered University College Dublin in 1946, initially to study science. After a few terms in college, he took a post in the Irish civil service and continued his university studies at night, having switched to humanities and arts.
Kinsella's first poems were published in the University College Dublin magazine National Student. His first pamphlet, The Starlit Eye (1952), was published by Liam Miller's Dolmen Press, as was Poems (1956), his first book-length publication. These were followed by Another September (1958), Moralities (1960), Downstream (1962), Wormwood (1966), and the long poem Nightwalker (1967).
Marked as it was by the influence of W. H. Auden and dealing with a primarily urban landscape and with questions of romantic love, Kinsella's early work marked him as distinct from the mainstream of Irish poetry in the 1950s and 1960s, which tended to be dominated by the example of Patrick Kavanagh.
He received the Honorary Freedom of the City of Dublin in May 2007.
As a professor: The Irish Tradition Programme at Trinity College.
Mirror in February
The day dawns, with scent of must and rain,
Of opened soil, dark trees, dry bedroom air.
Under the fading lamp, half dressed - my brain
Idling on some compulsive fantasy -
I towel my shaven jaw and stop, and stare,
Riveted by a dark exhausted eye,
A dry downturning mouth.
It seems again that it is time to learn,
In this untiring, crumbling place of growth
To which, for the time being, I return.
Now plainly in the mirror of my soul
I read that I have looked my last on youth
And little more; for they are not made whole
That reach the age of Christ.
Below my window the wakening trees,
Hacked clean for better bearing, stand defaced
Suffering their brute necessities;
And how should the flesh not quail, that span for span
Is mutilated more? In slow distaste
I fold my towel with what grace I can,
Not young, and not renewable, but man.