A keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders.' Seamus Heaney
Michael Longley has been called 'one of the finest lyric poets of our time'. In assembling the work of forty years, his Collected Poems displays a brilliantly sustained achievement whose depth, beauty and wit can now be fully appreciated. Longley's poetry combines intense concentration with remarkable variety. The formal and thematic range laid down in No Continuing City (1969) has undergone a series of rich metamorphoses up to Snow Water (2004), and the two poems included here as an epilogue.
Longley's genres span love poetry, war poetry, nature poetry, elegies, satires, verse epistles, poems that reflect on art and the art of poetry. He has extended the capacity of the lyric to absorb dark matter: the Great War, the Holocaust, the Northern Irish 'Troubles'. His poetic landscape intermingles Belfast (where he lives), western Ireland, Italy, Japan and Homeric Greece. Longley's superb translations from classical poets (such as 'Ceasefire', which greets the IRA ceasefire in terms of the Iliad) speak to contemporary issues while activating the deepest sources of European poetry.
“Collected Poems is vital...and reminds us that Longley is not only a lyric poet of the first rank, but a clear-sighted observer who knows the real world when he sees it, even as he knows that it cannot be grasped, only celebrated, or interrogated, or mourned - which is to say, given its due - as it passes. ”
John Burnside, Irish Times
“A wonderfully capacious book, at once stringent and delicate. ”
Andrew Motion, Observer Books of the Year
“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
“Michael Longley's Collected Poems delineate a 40-year achievement whose scale can now be appreciated.”
Roy Foster, Irish Times Books of the Year
“Michael Longley's Collected Poems brings together in one beautifully designed volume the work of this marvellous poet, reminding us, if we needed reminding, of the authority of his voice and the beauty of his line.”
John Banville, Irish Times Books of the Year