The Ghost Orchid

Michael Longley

Published by Wake Forest University Press, 2012
ISBN 10: 091639073X / ISBN 13: 9780916390730
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Synopsis: A collection of poetry from the Irish poet whose last book "Gorse Fires" won the Whitbread Prize for Poetry. Whether writing about Sissinghurst, Japan, Buchenwald or Belfast, Longley speaks with delicacy and passion about love and loss, life and death. This is a limited edition of 100.

Review: "Irish poets learn your trade/Sing whatever is well made," Yeats thundered, a mandate to which Michael Longley has long proved equal. Love poet, mythologist, translator, and visionary, he dreams above all of an ideal peace but writes achingly of "history left ajar," of World War II's legacy and Northern Ireland's too-casual violence. In "The Ice-Cream Man" (from 1991's Gorse Fires), Longley draws one victim into his family's fold: "Rum and raisin, vanilla, butter-scotch, walnut, peach:/You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before/They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road/And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop...."

Longley's most recent volume, The Ghost Orchid, contains fewer direct accounts of the Troubles and a host of transformations. There are adaptations of "Ovid's lovely casualties," notably "Arachne" and "Perdix"--in which Pallas Athene turns the young Daedalus's nephew into a "garrulous partridge." She "dressed him in feathers in mid-air and made him a bird,/Intelligence flashing to wing-tip and claw." There are also seven Irished translations from the Iliad and the Odyssey. Home from battle in full armor, Hector is amused when the "nightmarish nodding" of his helmet terrifies his baby son. Two poems later, in "Ceasefire," an aged Priam makes peace with Achilles: "I get down on my knees and do what must be done/And kiss Achilles' hand, the killer of my son." The son, of course, is Hector.

Longley has been called "a keeper of the artistic estate, a custodian of griefs and wonders," and he does his best to balance tragedy with ecstasy in hushed love poems such as "Snow-Hole" and "Couplet": "When I was young I wrote that flowers are very slow flames/And you uncovered your breasts often among my images." Elsewhere, Longley commingles love and nature with less intensity but with no less awe or brilliance.

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Bibliographic Details

Title: The Ghost Orchid
Publisher: Wake Forest University Press
Publication Date: 2012
Book Condition: Good
Edition: First Edition.

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Michael Longley
Published by Wake Forest University Press
ISBN 10: 091639073X ISBN 13: 9780916390730
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Book Description Wake Forest University Press. Hardcover. Condition: Fair. A readable copy. All pages are intact, and the cover is intact. Pages can include considerable notes-in pen or highlighter-but the notes cannot obscure the text. At ThriftBooks, our motto is: Read More, Spend Less. Seller Inventory # G091639073XI5N00

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Longley, Michael
Published by Winston Salem, North Carolina, U.S.A.: Wake Forest Univ Pr (1996)
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Book Description Winston Salem, North Carolina, U.S.A.: Wake Forest Univ Pr, 1996. Hardcover. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 8vo. 63 pp. Light wear to book and DJ. Clean, unmarked copy. Seller Inventory # 037421

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Longley, Michael
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Book Description Wake Forest University Press 2012-03-05, US, 2012. Condition: Very Good. Dust Jacket Condition: Very Good. 63 pages. Light shelf-wear to dust jacket, else a clean, tight copy. Record # 465537. Seller Inventory # 465537

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