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Gorse Fires [Paperback]

Michael Longley
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

Oct 1991

Emerging, as it did, after over a decade of silence, Gorse Fires had an immediate and resounding impact - revealing a poetry that seemed renewed and re-energised - and winning the Whitbread Prize for Poetry in 1991. It is now regarded as the pivotal book in Michael Longley's distinguished career.

If Ireland remains Longley's starting-point or implied focus, it is often sighted through disturbing perspectives that derive from foreign cultures, from Homer's Odyssey, from the Second World War, and from the Holocaust. Even his beautifully precise poems about the West of Ireland are shadowed by the many destructive forces ranged against the creative act.

Longley's versions of Odysseus' return to Ithaca and 'Ghetto' (based on the Polish ghettoes) epitomise his concern with the meaning of home and family. He sees these archetypes of Western civilisation as vulnerable, problematic, violated by power. Odysseus' homecoming involves murder and vengeance as well as reunions - a connection with the ambiguities of life in Northern Ireland.

Gorse Fires is an unusual artistic blend: darkly austere, yet abundant in images, catalogues and syntactical virtuosity. The formal links between poems gives the whole collection the air of a richly varied sequence; it is a work of the highest order.

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Poetry.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 52 pages
  • Publisher: Wake Forest University Press (Oct 1991)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0916390489
  • ISBN-13: 978-0916390488
  • Product Dimensions: 19.6 x 12.7 x 0.6 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 3,784,558 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


"A contemporary who should endure over the life of our language" (Donald Hall)


One of the finest lyric poets of our century

" (John Burnside)

"Longley may not possess, or want, the international glamour of some of his contemporaries, but the poems in Gorse Fires, both individually and collectively, bewitch with the magic of coherence" (Carol Ann Duffy Guardian)

"A keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders" (Seamus Heaney)

"Michael Longley's poems have matched a sense of history and the brutal present with a recurrent feeling for the lyrical moment and the fragility of experience" (James Fenton) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

Book Description

'Few living poets can write as perceptively and as movingly... The tragic vision expressed throughout the collection makes Gorse Fires burn with grim intensity. This is major work' - John Banville, Independent on Sunday.

Winner of the Whitbread Prize for Poetry.

--This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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4.0 out of 5 stars His best 1 Sep 2013
Have read lots of Irish poets and found this collection to be a very provocative yet easy read. Enjoy with a coffee.
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