Derek Mahon’s rich new collection turns its wide-angled lens on a ‘dozy seaside town’ in County Cork, four fellow Ulster poets, a bicycle shop in Delhi and the volcanic origins of the Canary Islands, against the background of a ‘cascading world economy’. Alive to the current climate, it also revisits Chinese poetry of the T’ang era and explores that of modern India in the work of the fictitious Hindi poet Gopal Singh.
This is the work of a contemporary great, one who dreams that the world be re-enchanted, so that
we look to the still living whole
to heal the heart and cure the soul.
The Sublime Sneaks In
As before, he looks to other civilisations to achieve a wider perspective. Groups of poems are devoted to China and India respectively. But something else is asserted as well, over and above the elegance of thought, range of reference and lyric beauty of which Mahon is always capable. My favourite poems here . . . have as their starting point a memorable moment out of which comes a vision that is at one and the same time artistic, philosopical, and historical. At the beginning of the 21st century, Derek Mahon is as indispensable a political poet as he was half a century ago, when a ‘strange child with a taste for verse’ embraced Irish identity in the face of much contradiction.
– Philip McDonagh, The Irish Times
Paul Batchelor celebrates the triumphant late flowering of Derek Mahon’s work
‘One of the challenges Mahon sets himself is to find a place in his classical, sculpted poetry for the debris of contemporary life. . . He tries to appreciate the destructive forces of nature, but ‘the ancient rage / for order, the old curse, is too ingrained’. When he manages to hold these contending impulses within a single poem the results can be astonishing. . . The crystalline clarity and the sophisticated sound-patterning are typical of Mahon’s best work. . . An Autumn Wind confirms the triumphant late flowering that began with Harbour Lights and continued in Life on Earth. This body of work forms one of the most significant developments in poetry this century.
– The Guardian
Year Published: 2010
ISBN ebook: 978 1 91133 740 9