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Irish Poetry

Michael Longley - Snow Water (paperback)

"Snow Water marks a decisive moment in Longley's poetic development — as decisive, perhaps as that signalled by Gorse Fires.… Longley's war poetry can stand comparison with the best of its century; and Snow Water adds to the distinguished total, while also doing something radically new." The Guardian

"Whatever Longley attends to — whether war poetry revivified, the minutiae of the landscape he lives in, its flora and ornithology, or Homeric retellings — he describes with the same honoring accuracy. As for much of Irish poetry, the political is always part of the evocation. … [T]he poems are sometimes bird's-eye views of the garden or the 'fallen branches' upon which the birds come to rest. The suggestion of sturdiness and growth, rootedness and flourish, provides a fitting metaphor for these verses, which reveal a poet both prolific and wise, a heartening combination." Meg Tyler, Harvard Review

Poem Beginning with a Line of J.M. Synge

Brown lark beside the sun
Supervising Carrigskeewaun
In late May, marsh marigolds
And yellow flags, trout at the low
Bridge hesitating, even
The ravens' ramshackle nest —
Applaud yourself, applaud me
As I find inside the cottage
A wheatear from Africa
Banging against the windowpane
And hold in my hands her creamy-
Buff underparts and white rump
And carry her to the door
And she joins you beside the sun
Before skimming across the dunes
To mimic in a rabbit hole
Among silverweed and speedwell
My panic, my breathlessness.

2004   64 pages
ISBN 978-1-930630-14-7

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