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12Sep

The best recent poetry – review roundup

The Candelight Master by Michael Longley; Just Us by Claudia Rankine; FURY by David Morley; Tiger Girl by Pascale Petit

In “After Amergin”, Michael Longley embarks on a vigorous riff displaying the elemental reach of his art: “I am the night-flying whimbrel / That whistles down the chimney”. In turning variations on Amergin, Longley is referencing Robert Graves, who also featured that Old Irish bard; and here in The Candelight Master (Cape, £10), as so often, Longley is honouring his historical debts in a multi-layered way. One of these layers is his earlier self, and in “A Grasshopper” present-day Longley’s voice gives way to a translation of Anacreon produced in his 20s, while in “Maisie’s Poem” he introduces some lines on the first world war by his granddaughter. Exegi monumentum aere perennius, wrote Horace, and with more than 50 years of publishing behind him Longley has built up a monumental legacy of his own. Yet burnished though these poems are, they remain teemingly alive. Any talk of monuments is thankfully premature.

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