The first new collection in seven years.
Michael Longley has remarkable powers of reinvention. Certain themes remain constant - the natural world, war, violence, love, friendship, art, death - but they also keep changing because the forms and genres of his poetry never stand still. In A Hundred Doors a sinuous short line complements his variations on pentameter and hexameter. And Longley's interlacing of individual lyrics, so that a diverse collection seems a single poem, intensifies in the shadow of mortality.
A sequence about his grandchildren's births is counterpointed by elegies, including Longley's continuing elegy for the Great War dead. The Mayo townland, Carrigskeewaun, with its cast of leverets, otters, swans, wrens, lesser twayblade and bird's-foot trefoil, also takes on fresh guises. Longley is among Europe's foremost 'ecological' poets. Yet Carrigskeewaun is ultimately symbolic, a microcosm, a 'soul-arena'.
A Hundred Doors roams in time and space. The title-poem evokes the oldest Byzantine church in Greece: Our Lady of a Hundred Doors on the island of Paros. The remains of a Greek temple 'ache' beneath its floor. Wild orchids, which crop up in Greece and the Italian Garfagnana as well as Ireland, are among the collection's multiple 'doors'. Others are music and paintings, 'cloudberry jam from Lapland', a Shetland pony. This is work of power, precision and delicacy: poems that 'bend and magnify the daylight', poems by a master craftsman.
“One of the finest lyric poets of our century”
“Michael Longley is a lyric poet with perfect pitch. His formal elegance seems effortless...he is a master in an old, great tradition”
Elaine Feinstein, The Times
“In his truest and most enduring poems, Longley manages, in Yeats's words, to hold justice and reality in a single thought without doing violence to either. The many poems in which Longley succeeds in this aim are among the great poems of our time”
David Wheatley, Guardian
“Longley's war poetry can stand comparison with the best of this century”
“Longley's poems count the phenomena of the natural world with the particular deliberate pleasure of a lover's fingers wandering along the bumpy path of the vertebrae”
“As Longley moves into hte old age that was so enabling for many of the finest poets and artists - W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens and Walt Whitman come to mind first off - his words are moving more gracefully than ever”
Poetry Ireland Review
“Of the modern writers who deal with conflict, I believe Michael Longley, whose father fought in the First World War, is the greatest figure we have. I carry his work with me to the war zones of the world”
Fergal Kane, The Times
“He is a major writer”