The On Being Project

Michael Longley
Michael Longley

has written more than 20 books of poetry including Collected Poems, Gorse Fires, The Stairwell and his most recent collection, Angel Hill. He was the professor of poetry for Ireland from 2007 to 2010 and is the winner of the Whitbread Poetry Prize, T.S. Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize and the Griffen Prize. In 2015 he was honored with the freedom of the city of Belfast.

“Sea Asters”

Michael Longley reads his poem “Sea Asters”

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“Sea Asters”

“Age”

Michael Longley reads his poem “Age”

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“Age”

“All Of These People”

Who was it who suggested that the opposite of war Is not so much peace as civilisation? He knew Our assassinated Catholic greengrocer who died At Christmas in the arms of our Methodist minister, And our ice-cream man whose continuing requiem Is the twenty-one flavours children have by heart. Our cobbler mends shoes for everybody; […]

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“All Of These People”

“Ceasefire”

I Put in mind of his own father and moved to tears Achilles took him by the hand and pushed the old king Gently away, but Priam curled up at his feet and Wept with him until their sadness filled the building. II Taking Hector’s corpse into his own hands Achilles Made sure it was […]

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“Ceasefire”

“Remembering Carrigskeewaun”

A wintry night, the hearth inhales And the chimney becomes a windpipe Fluffy with soot and thistledown, A voice-box recalling animals: The leveret come of age, snipe At an angle, then the porpoises’ Demonstration of meaningless smiles. Home is a hollow between the waves, A clump of nettles, feathery winds, And memory no longer than […]

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“Remembering Carrigskeewaun”

“The Ice Cream Man”

Rum and raisin, vanilla, butter-scotch, walnut, peach: You would rhyme off the flavours. That was before They murdered the ice-cream man on the Lisburn Road And you bought carnations to lay outside his shop. I named for you all the wild flowers of the Burren I had seen in one day: thyme, valerian, loosestrife, Meadowsweet, […]

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“The Ice Cream Man”

“The Linen Industry”

Pulling up flax after the blue flowers have fallen And laying our handfuls in the peaty water To rot those grasses to the bone, or building stooks That recall the skirts of an invisible dancer, We become a part of the linen industry And follow its processes to the grubby town Where fields are compacted […]

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“The Linen Industry”