The Book of the Angel

17.50

Medbh McGuckian

Available in Hardback only

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Taking its title from the Old Irish eighth-century Latin document, Liber Angeli, in which Saint Patrick is granted the ecclesiastical see of Armagh through colloquy with an angel, and its inspiration from the reconciliation in Renaissance and mediaeval art, between the tenets of Christ’s Passion and the tensions of passion, between Agape and Eros, these poems use the millennial standpoint to contemplate the eternally unfathomable mystery of the Incarnation.
— Thomas McCarthy, Cork Literary Review

Included are responses to the apocalyptic wars engendered by September 11, but ultimately the book’s focus is on personal triumph over the forces of dissolution and the possibility for human salvation through the advent into this life of extraordinary and exceptionally loveable individuals, who may or may not be akin to what we mean by ‘angels’.

With its rich repertoire of natural imagery, and emphasis on the special nature of the friendship that can exist between kindred souls, [The Book of the Angel] also evokes the closely-knit medieval communities of the Celtic Christian monks and nuns, who today symbolise for many people the possibility of a religious practice that honours both the physical and the spiritual aspects of existence. It is a book that will only extend Medbh McGuckian’s reputation as one of the most thoughtful and lyrical poets of her day.

— Naomi Foyle, Culture Northern Ireland


Like a medieval painting whose archaic symbolism is lost on modern viewers, the beauty of McGuckian’s work proves ravishing, uncanny.

— Megan Harlan, San Francisco Chronicle

Year Published: 2004
Details: 88pp
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 363 6

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