At seventy-five, John Montague, the doyen of Ulster poetry, was as vigorous and creative as ever. Drunken Sailor opens at the mouth of Cork Harbour, then journeys across the county to West Cork before embracing matters of his Northern past.
Mortality and the power of myth are among his subjects, and there is an underlying dialogue with Yeats, from the ruined towers at Roche’s Point, to the glimpse of Ben Bulben in the ambitious longer poem, ‘The Plain of Blood’, with which the book culminates. But Montague’s vision is both more pagan and more Catholic. In this volume of lyrics, John Montague combines the energy and ardour of a young poet with the wisdom and rue of a sage.