‘VESPERTINAL MIXTURE’: MICHAEL LONGLEY’S A HUNDRED DOORS
ResumoAbstract: Remembering, in some senses, is an act of reparation. What is it, then, to recount by name and number the creatures and the flora that populate the Hibernian landscape, in a time when the edges of the city are ever expanding? Almost as if in a gesture of redress, Michael Longley’s most recent collection of poems, A Hundred Doors, reveals again his sustained and sustaining interest in landscapes not encroached upon by the urban. Why this pointed avoidance of the urban? In part, he is reinstating his relationship to the past, and to a kind of permanence, to the land that remains as people come and go. In my article I will examine Longley’s relationship to the pastoral, to the landscapes that appear unbothered by human forms beyond his immediate family and friends. (Unlike Heaney’s poetry, in Longley we find few if any accounts of laborers and farmers.) The pastoral supposedly represents a simplification of life (the Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics refers to it as “the complex” “reduced to the simple”). It is relief, but not simplicity or isolation, which Longley finds in the pastoral.
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