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Best of Irish Poetry 2009
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Songs of Earth and Light

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MICHAEL LONGLEY

 

 

 

Michael Longley

Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939 and educated at the Royal Belfast Academical Institution and Trinity College Dublin where he read Classics.  He has published ten collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award, and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won the Hawthornden Prize, the T.S. Eliot Prize and the Irish Times Poetry Prize.  His Collected Poems was published in 2006.  In 2001, he received the Queen’s Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003, the Wilfred Owen Award.  In 2010, he was awarded a Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE).  He was Ireland Professor of Poetry, 2007-2010.  He and his wife, the critic Edna Longley, live and work in Belfast and, in 2015, he was made Freeman of the city. 

 

 

 

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Inlet

Telling Yellow

Cowslip

 

______

 

 

Inlet

for Kathleen Jamie

 

I have seen your face
Among the pebbles
In a Highland pool.

Seeping into grass
The sea at spring tide
Leaves bladderwrack there.

You will have noticed
A planetary rose-hip
Hanging from the sky,

A slippery plank
Bridging the inlet
And the last of the sea,

A mussel shell

Filling up with rain
As you reach the pool.

 

 

*

 

Telling Yellow

after Winifred Nicholson: a found poem

 

Yesterday I set out

To pick a yellow bunch

To place as a lamp

On my table in dull,

Rainy weather. I picked

Iceland poppies, marigolds,

Yellow iris; my bunch

Did not tell yellow. I

Added sunflowers, canary

Pansies, buttercups,

Dandelions; no yellower.

I added to my butter-

Like mass, two everlasting

Peas, magenta pink,

And all my yellows broke

Into luminosity.

Orange and gold

And primrose each

Singing its note.

 

 

       *

 

Cowslip

poem beginning with a line of Barbara Guest

         

The way a cowslip bends

Recalls a cart track,

Crushed sunlight at my feet.

 

 

©2016 Michael Longley

 

 

Author Links

 

Michael Longley at the Ireland Chair of Poetry website

Michael Longley at Poetry Archive

Poetry Foundation: Michael Longley

 

 

 

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