Michael Longley’s Snow Water follows his highly acclaimed The Weather in Japan to prove that he is one of the best nature poets in English: a poet who can rightly claim the paradoxically liquid crystal "snow water” as a metaphor for his own imagination. Yet, living in Northern Ireland, Michael Longley is a "nature poet turned into a war poet as if / He could cure death with the rub of a dock leaf,” as he writes in "Edward Thomas’s Poem.” Longley cherishes the natural world, the words associated with it, and the perspective which dwelling in the five elements has revealed to his tender, patient mind. The imperatives of the subjective world resound in every sacramental detail of the landscape. Even in the elegies, eulogies and friendship verse, Longley’s ability to find the right natural image with which to communicate his fellow feelings is striking; for example, he compares the poems of the late Michael Hartnett to the "skylark’s / Chilly hallelujah, the robin’s autumn song.” And so it is with the rest of the poems on a multiplicity of subjects; Longley’s discrete ministrations invite us to capture our "own little cumulus of exhalations.” Literature and the land are seen throughout as a form of shelter for the inner life, for here it may be explored. With cover artwork by Michael Longley’s daughter, Sarah
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38 HARMONICA abundant farmland Allaran Point Anne Stevenson bedroom window beech tree bog asphodel burial mound butterfly Caher Island cairn Carricknashinnagh shoal Carrigskeewaun Claggan Clashnettie Cloonaghmanagh Corinna cottage crescent moon's dead dear octogenarian Jewish dipper Donegal Dooaghtry dragonfly duach dunes EARTHSHINE EDWARD THOMAS'S POEM eyes gateposts Gerard Dillon godwit Helen HELEN'S MONKEY heron hole house sparrows imperishable fabrics Inishdeigil IRISH HARE Lackakeely Level Pegging looked machair marsh marigolds Medbh McGuckian MOON CAKES mound at Templedoomore mountain hare NORWEGIAN WEDDING NOTES & ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS octogenarian Jewish friend Old Poets otter outhouse Owennadornaun pear PETALWORT picture a heron PINE MARTEN PIPISTRELLE Pisa airport Poetry Praxilla rainbow road to Pisa robin Roonkeel rub supernatural preservative sanderlings skunk skylark SLEEP & DEATH snipe snow geese snow water speedy chaperons swans sycamore Thallabaun thirteen O'Tooles tide TRA-NA-ROSSAN twenties Blackburn twin brother Death Wash him properly whoopers wind wings WOODEN HARE WOODSMOKE Yellow Bungalow