The Pleasure Ground
'Richard Murphy's verse is classical in a way that demonstrates what the classical strengths really are. It combines a high music with simplicity, force and directness in dealing with the world of action. He has the gift of epic objectivity: behind his poems we feel not the assertion of his personality, but the actuality of events, the facts and sufferings of history… I don’t know of any other contemporary poet who has so redeemed the classical manner. Every line is unique and wrought, somehow organic, yet the whole thing is simple. The plainest statements have an almost plastic life and solidarity. And the final effect is of a formal beautifully sustained music of essentials. This kind of poetry, which is nowadays so terribly difficult to write, reminds us that poems too must take their final test of health in the world of action.' – Ted Hughes.
‘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… Richard Murphy is an intriguingly available poet and, like those of Robert Graves, his poems have all the bright music of great love songs.’ – Gerald Dawe, Irish Times.
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