For nearly fifty years Pearse Hutchinson’s poetry has commanded attention and respect. The Soul that Kissed the Body includes, with his own translations into English, generous selections from two collections in Irish and more recent poems. His work is thoughtful and compassionate, and he is one of the most incisive critics of contemporary values. His honest introduction elaborates on the ‘family quarrel’ his engagement with Irish and poetry has involved.
One can never read Pearse Hutchinson’s poetry without hearing that wonderfully resonant voice speaking its lines in your mind’s ear. This book contains poems of great anger and great love, poems of memory and of rhetoric, poems celebrating music and the muse, but poems that take the music of words as their point of departure. What he does seems right in Irish and then right in English although they are often quite different. Lútáil is a great word in ‘Ait gan amhran’ which the English cannot quite capture, whereas ‘kowtowing’ in the same poem (borrowed from the Chinese} Is certainly stronger than the Irish umhlú síos. And the introduction is a gem, a brief biography of the personal and literary growth of a poet. It is good to note his comparison of the discovery of Irish and its literature with falling in love; and his praise of teachers and of public libraries in helping to educate him: all begrudgers please note.— Alan Titley, Books Ireland