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.