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Drunken Sailor


At seventy-five, John Montague, the doyen of Ulster poetry, was as vigorous and creative as ever. Drunken Sailor opens at the mouth of Cork Harbour, then journeys across the county to West Cork before embracing matters of his Northern past.

Mortality and the power of myth are among his subjects, and there is an underlying dialogue with Yeats, from the ruined towers at Roche’s Point, to the glimpse of Ben Bulben in the ambitious longer poem, ‘The Plain of Blood’, with which the book culminates. But Montague’s vision is both more pagan and more Catholic. In this volume of lyrics, John Montague combines the energy and ardour of a young poet with the wisdom and rue of a sage.

Less strict than British verse, more formal than American, Montague poems take a great variety of forms — imagistic description, dramatic monologues, elegies, litanies, quest romance all appear in the Drunken Sailor…. There are many measured and measuring allusions to the late great Yeats in Drunken Sailor, but this best thing [“Last Court”] is simply great late Montague.

— Adrian Frazier, The Irish Times


Year Published: 2004
Details: 80pp
ISBN PBK: 978 1 85235 360 5
ISBN HBK: 978 1 85235 361 2

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