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The Weather in Japan Paperback – 10 Feb 2000

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Product details

  • Paperback: 80 pages
  • Publisher: Jonathan Cape (10 Feb. 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224060430
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224060431
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.2 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 231,223 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

Amazon Review

The Weather In Japan is Belfast-born Michael Longley's third new book of poetry in a decade: Gorse Fires (1991) ended a long poetic silence and earned its author the Whitbread Prize for poetry, and the subsequent The Ghost Orchid (1995) affirmed the re-emergence of a singular poetic voice, notable for its density of image and metaphor and at ease with classical allusion. Yet for all that his verse is marked by a patient clarity of perception and rhythmic virtuosity that renders complex ideas with a distilled and careful elegance. Longley places painting and literature alongside the natural world in the constellations by which he steers, and if many of the poems here hint at man's capacity for violence, brutality and chaos, the poet's sure guide is the brief illumination afforded by the organising gestures of culture or the epiphanic beauty of nature. The title poem's Zen brevity exemplifies this: "THE WEATHER IN JAPAN/Makes bead curtains of the rain,/ Of the mist a paper screen" recasts Ezra Pound's imagist verse as an end-of-century meditation on the reciprocal transformations between art and experience.

Longley's confidences rest ultimately in the observation of the particular and in local and domestic manifestations of generosity and democracy, offering the reader the trembling compass-point of a life creatively rendered: in "All Of These People" he recalls the suggestion that "the opposite of war/ Is not so much peace as civilisation", instanced by the cobbler who "mends shoes for everybody" and by the butcher who "blends into his best sausages leeks, garlic, honey". The last might stand as a metaphor for Longley himself, a generous versifier blending the rich elements of poetry's resources with the small insights that affirm our humanity. --Burhan Tufail


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

"One of the finest lyric poets of our century" (John Burnside)

"His work indicates one of the gifts of the major poet, of making the one life speak for all, and its corollary, of seeming to be able to speak to anyone" (Sean O'Brien)

"Michael Longley's affectionate metre, his clean-cut and lucid measure, is one of the most distinguished accomplishments in contemporary poetry" (Douglas Dunn)

"While much contemporary verse attempts to sound casual, even offhand, Longley has consistently explored ways of thickening the texture of his idiom. His measured rhythms, skillfully crafted metaphors and elaborate syntax always insist on poetry's origins in ceremony, its powers to commemorate and dignify... His poetry binds the actual and mythical so seamlessly one looks in vain for the joints" (Mark Ford)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

10 of 10 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 15 April 2001
Format: Paperback
Longley is a man who has come to terms with the tragedy and the beauty of every day. Many of the poems center around death, yet despite this there is a feeling of optimism. This is no more evident than in the poem The Evening Star which is a poem of remembrance and dedication for a two year old, where intense grief ends with the thought that the baby will be reunited with her mother, 'And brings the wean back to her mammy'.. There are many dedications to people; one of the most touching and beautiful of these is January 12, 1996 which is a tribute to his father in just four lines. In fact, in this collection there are a great number of very short four line poems. Two excellent examples of this are At Poll Salach, which in four lines tells us that there is reason to be optimistic in life despite the coldness and tragedy surrounding us, and A Prayer, which really is a kind of invocation to let beauty prevail despite the destruction all around. These short four lines poems are extremely powerful and somehow catch a basic truth, they almost have a haiku feel to them and are among some of the most powerful in the collection.
Many of the are about war and conflict and even in those Longley manages to insert optimism, A Poppy is a particularly good example. In this poem there are links made between a soldier's head and a poppy head, how they can both be weighed down. There is no doubt of the death and waste and destruction in this poem and yet it ends, "and the poppy that sheds its flower-heads in a day grows in one summer four hundred more, which means two thousand petals overlapping as though to make a cape for the corn goddess or a soldier's soul. To be able to see such beauty in the middle of devastation is so uplifting.
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Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Thought provoking verse, book in good condition as indicated
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on (beta) 2 reviews
7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Longley's best yet 30 May 2001
By A Customer - Published on
Format: Paperback
Surely this is Michael Longley's best book yet, even more consistently fine than his Whitbread-winning GORSE FIRES. In the past Longley has written frequently about the violence in Northern Ireland, and he does so briefly here ("All of These People," "A Prayer")--but more often these poems address the two world wars and their aftermaths ("The War Graves," "The Bullet Hole"). He also returns to his interest in classics: many poems deal with Homer ("In the Iliad") and the several Latin poets he admires ("Remembering the Poets"). Perhaps what most distinguishes this collection from Longley's earlier books is its half-dozen poems about quilts (the best of which may be "Broken Dishes" and "The Yellow Teapot"). Anyone who enjoys Longley's earlier work should certainly read this, and anyone unfamiliar with him would find this one of the most winning introductions.
Broken Dishes 28 Dec. 2005
By Mary - Published on
Format: Hardcover
Michael Longley is a wonderful poet. I've been collecting his books for a while now. I do love Weather in Japan but find that his most touching poems come from a chapbook I found at Abbey Press in Northern Ireland. The chapbook is called "Broken Dishes". It is my most treasured Longley book. I have also found other gems of poetry at this small press out of Newry.
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