Austin Clarke's 'The Planter's Daughter'

Austin Clarke (1896-1974)

A man with a prodigious output over a long life: he wrote verse plays, novels, memoires and about twenty collections of poetry. Perhaps, like a lot of Irish Poets, he is understandably overshadowed by Yeats, though why he might also be overshadowed by Paddy Kavanagh is a more interesting question.

His Collected Poems, published by Carcanet in 2008, is a fascinating book. I bought it because I had heard this poem, recited at a concert. It is probably not representative of his work as a whole.

It might be worth pointing out for those under ‘a certain age’ that when this poem was written, Sunday was the day on which no work was done, no shops were opened, and once they had been to mass, people had the day off.

Michael Longley's 'Laertes'.

Ulysses/Odysseus again. This time one of Michael Longley’s superb reimaginings of Homeric episodes. That magnificent final line, ‘‘And cradled like driftwood the bones of his dwindling father’ with all its humanity and compassion, can be offset against ‘The Butchers’ in which Longley describes, unflinchingly, the brutality of Odysseus’ treatment of the Suitors and Maids.