Michael Longley Terence Brown - Essay

Terence Brown

(Contemporary Literary Criticism)

The early poems of Michael Longley … are the work of a self-conscious, urban sophisticate for whom Ireland as a possible poetic subject scarcely exists. Indeed his first volume, No Continuing City (1969), contained only one poem on an explicitly Irish subject. In that collection we enter a world of private associations, of wit, intelligence and formal relations. Elaborate metaphysical conceits are skilfully worked, an instinct for subjective allegory is indulged, while the central properties of the poet's consciousness are urban and bourgeois. The tone, imagery and rhythms imply a humanist education; the poems on personal relations suggest a sense of formality and tradition, of civilised rituals and...

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