'This anthology results from decades of random reading plus a recent deliberate trawl to discover more examples of what Robert Graves calls 'heart-rending sense', poems I would want to copy out in longhand or learn by heart or share with others in a book like this one'.
There is huge variety, in Michael Longley's selection, of tone, of versification and of music, but an unashamed leaning towards the lyric; some of the finest love poems and elegies in any language can be found here. History too makes its presence felt - emigration, the 1916 Uprising, World War, the Troubles, the hunger strikes - sometimes in close-up, sometimes as noises-off. What unites all the poems is the imaginative relationship they have, one way or another, with Ireland, and that they are written by poets 'who have been true to their experience, who have forged individual idioms, who have transformed one or other of our old languages from within'.
Michael Longley was born in Belfast in 1939, and educated at Trinity College, Dublin, where he read Classics. He has published nine collections of poetry including Gorse Fires (1991) which won the Whitbread Poetry Award and The Weather in Japan (2000) which won both the Hawthornden Prize and the T. S. Eliot Prize. His Collected Poems appeared in 2006, and his most recent collection A Hundred Doors (2011) won the Irish Times New Poetry Prize. In 2001 he received the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry. He was Ireland Professor of Poetry from 2007 to 2010.