Bernard O'Donoghue's magnificent fourth collection of poetry explores its title in a series of beautifully wrought poems whose simple elegance belie their complexity. There are moving elegies for people the poet has outlived. There are poems too about living outside the poet's original environment and the inclination to return there for stories and feelings: the MacNeicean 'tourist in his own country', perpetually restive and homesick.
Ireland for O'Donoghue is both more real than anywhere else and strangely ghostly - a country where the past is preserved but also where a rural generation is dying out. A place, a moment, a person - each poem reaches out from the particular to a luminous understanding of the uncertainties of life.
Bernard O'Donoghue was born in Cullen, Co. Cork in 1945. He is a Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, where he teaches Medieval English. Chatto have published his previous collections, including The Weakness (1991), Gunpowder (winner of the 1995 Whitbread Award for Poetry), Here Nor There (1999) which was a Poetry Book Society Choice title; and Farmer's Cross (2011). An edition of his Selected Poems was published by Chatto in 2008.
"O'Donoghue writes with a crisp precision and the attractive style of a story-teller; but it is in the unfussy details that he gets to the heart of the significance of the smallest gestures and the quietest lives"
"His skill lies in rendering small delights and memories vivid and touching in lucid, deceptively simple verse"
Sunday Times - Alan Brownjohn
"A master of creating depth of meaning through the juxtaposition of anecdote, myth and fable... Through the characters his poems remember and perhaps sometimes even create, he can step out of his own existence and, in the lives and experiences of others, find and explore the only common ground that means anything"