By: Richard Murphy
Richard Murphy, now in his eighties, is one of Ireland’s most distinguished poets, known particularly for poems drawing on the people and history of the west of Ireland with classical rigour and ‘unvarnished’ clarity. He emerged in the 1950s with John Montague and Thomas Kinsella as one of the three major poets in the new Irish poetic renaissance. Poems 1952–2012 expands the scope of his much acclaimed Collected Poems of 2000 to include a selection of new poems along with an appendix featuring illuminating commentary on the historical and personal background of some of his most notable work, including ‘The Cleggan Disaster’, ‘The God Who Eats Corn’, ‘The Battle of Aughrim’, and the poems of High Island. The Limited Edition will be signed, clothbound and numbered 1 to 75.
‘One of the truly great things about Richard Murphy’s Collected Poems is just how alive the book is to the west of Ireland: its history and people, the landscape, customs and folkways of making a living (as Murphy did) from the sea. But it is not as pastoral that these poems really live; the western islands and the terrain become austere emblematic presences, dramatising an intense struggle for personal and cultural identity. Traversing this geography of the mind, Murphy auspiciously reinvented in The Battle of Aughrim (1968) an historical frieze of war and conflict in the late 17th century spliced through with images drawn, almost cinematically, from 20th-century Ireland’ – Gerald Dawe, The Irish Times
Born in 1927 at Milford, near Kilmaine, County Mayo, RICHARD MURPHY spent part of his childhood in Ceylon, where his father was the last British Mayor of Colombo. From the age of eight, he attended boarding schools in Ireland and England, winning a scholarship to Oxford at seventeen. After years of displacement, marriage and divorce, he returned to Inishbofin in 1959 and settled for twenty years at Cleggan, writing there, on Omey and alone on High Island. He moved to Dublin in 1980, detaching himself from the beloved country of his past the better to reach it in poetry. He has lived near Kandy in Sri Lanka since 2007.