The Rough Field, published first in 1972 and now in its fifth edition, is recognised as a classic of contemporary Irish writing. This extended meditation on Ulster, the province by which John Montague‘s poems have been haunted, presents in counterpoint some of the auhor’s finest work. The historical and personal, autobiographical and mythological, blend in a magnificent exploration of his own and his people’s inheritance.
‘John Montague’s The Rough Field is a kind of ‘state of the nation’ poem, built up of visions and glimpses of locality, legend, and history, and as such it is astonishingly successful; moving, too, and as soundly crafted as the rosewood fiddle which seems to play with mourning sweetness in the margins.’ — John Bayley, The New York Review
‘[The Rough Field] has firmly established itself as a monument of Irish poetry, part of a tradition which includes The Deserted Village, Autumn Journal and The Great Hunger and its author as the outstanding Irish poet of his generation. A selected poems in itself, it absorbs and transforms many of Montague’s best short poems (‘Like Dolmens’, The Country ‘Fiddler’). Many themes which Hewitt, Heaney and others played with at the same time — layers of history in the Ulster landscape, its languages and placenames for instance — are presented here in their most successful form, borrowing extra resonance and power from the layout and structure of the book . . .’ — Tom Clyde, Books Ireland