The poems begin with something seen, remembered, or suddenly known, or a melancholy feeling about time passing, or complex emotions about love, and then they take a longer view, or hold their breath while a new tone, filled with sonorous risk and odd wisdom slowly seeps into an end-line of a stanza or a new section of a poem... There are moments when you hold your breath... and you sit up in pure delight... there are a number of poems in this book that will be read as long as any poems are read anywhere... The last poem, "Oweniny, Upper Reaches", filled with soft, haunting cadences and strange, ambiguous musings on solitude, memory and the meaning of things, is a masterpiece. It displays Clifton's reticence and technical skill against the need to let the poem soar into a truth that emerges from the gap between the words, and then it allows the words themselves to glide up and out in all their hushed and controlled beauty. --Colm Tóibín, Irish Times, on The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass
There is so much history in Harry Clifton's poems, so much geography, landscape, cityscape, repeopled precincts of the imagination, so much human drama and comedy; so many people, mythic, unlikely and hauntingly real. And all of it is limned with a masterful formal dexterity and an apparently limitless cultural curiosity. --C.K. Williams
His dazzlingly accomplished book is arguably the first great work of Irish poetic post-modernism… His is a universe of aftermaths, hauntings and returns, in which even God… dreams of becoming flesh again… an Irish voice that is utterly contemporary in its restless movement through time and space. --Fintan O'Toole, Irish Times, on Secular Eden
About the Author
Harry Clifton was born in Dublin in 1952, but has travelled widely in Africa and Asia, as well as more recently in Europe. He won the Patrick Kavanagh award in 1981 and has been the recipient of fellowships in Germany, France, the United States and Australia. He has published five collections of poems, including The Desert Route: Selected Poems 1973-88 and Night Train through the Brenner, all from Gallery Press, with The Desert Route co-published by Bloodaxe Books in Britain. On the Spine of Italy, his prose study of an Abruzzese mountain community, was published by Macmillan in 1999. A collection of his short fiction, Berkeley's Telephone, appeared from Lilliput Press in 2000. His previous collection of poems Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 was published by Wake Forest in 2007 and won the Irish Times Poetry Now award. His latest collection is The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass, published by Bloodaxe Books in Britain and Ireland, and by Wake Forest University Press in the USA. He has taught in Bremen and Bordeaux universities, as well as Trinity College and University College Dublin. He returned to Ireland in 2004 and is currently Ireland Professor of Poetry.