Louis MacNeice's prescription is designed to look ordinary, rather than esoteric. This work states that very little poetry can claim to meet these specifications, stringent in their very wideness. It tells how MacNeice's work matches the world he famously described as 'incorrigibly plural'.
'I would have a poet able bodied, fond of talking, a reader of the newspapers, capable of pity and laughter, informed in economics, appreciative of women, involved in personal relationships, actively interested in politics, susceptible to physical impressions.' Louis MacNeice's prescription is designed to look ordinary, rather than esoteric, but very little poetry can claim to meet these specifications, stringent in their very wideness. MacNeice's work matches the world he famously described as 'incorrigibly plural.' Michael Longley, himself a distinguished Ulster poet, has written an introductory essay of meticulous advocacy. His wife, the critic Edna Longley, has supplied the apparatus for students and the general reader.
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Louis MacNeice was born in Belfast in 1907, the son of a Church of Ireland rector, later a bishop. He was educated in England at Sherborne, Marlborough and Merton College, Oxford. His first book of poems, Blind Fireworks, appeared in 1929, and he subsequently worked as a translator, literary critic, playwright, autobiographer, BBC producer and feature writer. The Burning Perch, his last volume of poems, appeared shortly before his death in 1963. Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. He has published eleven collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award, The Weather in Japan (2000) which won both the Hawthornden Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize, and The Stairwell (2014) which won the Griffin International Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2006. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry, and in 2003 the Wilfred Owen Award. He was appointed a CBE in 2010, and from 2007 to 2010 was Ireland Professor of Poetry. In 2015 he was elected a Freeman of the City of Belfast. His most recent collection, Angel Hill, appeared in 2017, as did Sidelines: Selected Prose 1962-2015. He was awarded the 2017 PEN Pinter Prize.
Selected Poems by Louis MacNeice
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