Michael Longley

Michael Longley’s Ash Keys: New Selected Poems will be published later this year.

Poem: ‘Boreen’

Michael Longley, 21 March 2024

IOur stars on either side – herb robert, tormentil –The reeds we walk between are lovers whispering.

IIThey shelter with us behind the drystone wall,The men who laid these grass-smothered boulders.

IIIIn the far field a jackass and his jennetSafeguard the mare and her dozing foal.

IVButterfly-orchid ghosts, sand-martin ghostsWhere the Owenadornaun used to flow.

VI pick a buttercup for...

Three Poems

Michael Longley, 22 September 2022

Solomon’s Seal

Shaded by the self-seeded hazelsIn a back corner of our garden,To the right of the flowering currantAn unexpected Solomon’s sealI want to show you. Does it matterWhy such graceful bells are so called(Seals of a medieval document?)It’s May, and Solomon says: Rise up,My love, my fair one, and come away,Winter is past, the rain is overAnd gone, flowers appear on...

Poem: ‘After Amergin’

Michael Longley, 5 April 2018

I am the trout that vanishes Between the stepping stones. I am the elver that lingers Under the little bridge. I am the leveret that breakfasts Close to the fuchsia hedge. I am the stoat that dances Around the erratic boulder. I am the skein of sheep’s wool Wind and barbed wire tangle. I am the mud and spittle That make the swallows’ nest. I am the stonechat’s music Of...

Poem: ‘Room to Rhyme’

Michael Longley, 24 September 2015

in memory of Seamus Heaney


I blew a kiss across the stage to you When we read our poems in Lisdoonvarna Two weeks before you died. Arrayed in straw The Armagh Rhymers turned up at the end.


In the middle of a field in Mourne country Standing side by side, looking straight ahead We peed against a fragment of stone wall, St Patrick’s windbreak, the rain’s urinal.



Two Poems

Michael Longley, 7 March 2013

Lizard Orchid

I All ears in the Mugello What with the far cuckoo, The harmonising frog And crickets everywhere, Domestic sounds as well – Heidi baking a chestnut Cake, Lorenzo’s ladder Scraping the cherry tree – We find in Silvano’s Sloping upper meadow Close to the wood, regal Among seeding grasses, An orchid, each lower lip A streamer, extroversion Requiring subtle...

By spring​ 1919, Robert Graves was a demobilised war veteran, a new father and the author of four volumes of poetry. At this moment came ‘the first poem I wrote as myself’, as his...

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The Ticking Fear: Louis MacNeice

John Kerrigan, 7 February 2008

As Louis MacNeice lay dying in 1963, his last major work, a radio play called Persons from Porlock, was broadcast by the BBC. It is about a painter called Hank, who starts well in the 1930s, but...

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Fading Out

John Redmond, 2 November 1995

The West of Ireland is a good place in which to hide. Fast-moving columns of sun and rain cause landmarks to appear and disappear; the roads have potholes which could hide the many vagrant...

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Christ’s Teeth

C.K. Stead, 10 October 1991

‘Dates, dates are of the essence; and it will be found that I date quite exactly the breakdown of the imaginative exploit of the Cantos: between the completion of the late sequence called...

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Like the trees on Primrose Hill

Samuel Hynes, 2 March 1989

In ‘The Cave of Making’, his elegy for MacNeice, Auden describes his friend as a ‘lover of women and Donegal’. The geography seems a bit wrong – the Irish counties...

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Tom Paulin, 1 August 1985

Recently I received a somewhat smug letter from one of the editors of PN Review asking me to contribute to yet another symposium on the state of critical chassis which still persists in Great...

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Everything is susceptible

Douglas Dunn, 20 March 1980

Derek Mahon’s Poems 1962 – 1978 includes most of his three earlier books, to which he has added a few uncollected poems and about 35 pages of new work. Readers will discover that...

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