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The stairwell

By: Longley, Michael

0224101684 / 9780224101684
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20 cm 69 pages
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Winner of the 2015 Griffin Poetry PrizeShortlisted for the 2014 T.S.

Eliot PrizeIn The Stairwell, his tenth collection, Michael Longley's themes and forms reach a new intensity.

The second part of the book is a powerful sequence of elegies for his twin brother, Peter, and the dominant mood elsewhere is elegiac.

The title poem begins: `I have been thinking about the music for my funeral ...' The two parts are also linked by Homer.

Longley is well-known for his Homeric versions, and the Iliad is a presiding presence - both in poems about the Great War and in the range of imagery that gives his twin's death a mythic dimension.

Yet funeral music can be life-affirming. Longley has built this collection on intricate doublings, not only when he explores the tensions of twinship.

The psychologically suggestive word `stairwell' is itself an ambiguous compound.

These poems encompass birth as well as death, childhood and age, nature and art, the animal and human worlds, tenderness and violence, battlefield and `homeland'.

The Stairwell is a richly textured, immensely moving work.

Michael Longley has the rare ability to fuse emotional depth with complicated artistry: to make them, somehow, the same thing.


DCF Poetry by individual poets

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