Share this page

Share this page Bookmark and Share


These poems come from a special recording for the Poetry Archive:

! Missing Player !
To listen to the Archive's recordings, software called Adobe Flash Player (version 10) needs to be installed on your computer and you need to enable JavaScript in your browser settings.

Adobe Flash Player can be downloaded, free of charge, here.

Select bibliography

  • Ten Poems, Festival Publications 1965 - out of print
  • Three Regional Voices (with Barry Tebb and Iain Crichton Smith), Poet & Printer 1968 - out of print
  • Secret Marriages: Nine Short Poems, Phoenix Pamphlets Poets Press 1968 - out of print
  • Room to Rhyme, (with Seamus Heaney and David Hammond), Arts Council of Northern Ireland 1968 - out of print
  • No Continuing City: Poems 1963-1968, Macmillan 1969 - out of print
  • Under the Moon: Over the Stars (editor), Arts Council of Northern Ireland 1971 - out of print
  • Causeway: The Arts in Ulster (editor), Gill & Macmillan 1971
  • Lares, Poet & Printer 1972 - out of print
  • An Exploded View: Poems 1968-1972, Gollancz 1973 - out of print
  • Fishing in the Sky: Love Poems, Poet & Printer 1975
  • Man Lying on a Wall: Poems 1972-1975, Gollancz 1976
  • The Echo Gate: Poems 1975-1979, Secker & Warburg 1979
  • Patchwork, Gallery Press 1981
  • Poems 1963-1983, Secker & Warburg 1991 - out of print
  • Gorse Fires, Secker & Warburg / Wake Forest University Press 1991
  • Selected Poems: W. R. Rodgers (editor), Gallery Press 1993
  • Ship of the Wind, Poetry Ireland 1997 - out of print
  • Selected Poems, Jonathan Cape / Wake Forest University Press 1998
  • Penguin Modern Poets 13 (Michael Longley, Robin Robertson and Michael Hofmann), Penguin 1998
  • Broken Dishes, Abbey Press 1998
  • The Ghost Orchid, Jonathan Cape / Wake Forest University Press 1995
  • Selected Poems: Louis MacNeice (editor), Faber / Wake Forest University Press 1988
  • Out of the Cold: Drawings and Poems for Christmas (with Sarah Longley), Abbey Press 1999
  • The Weather in Japan, Jonathan Cape / Wake Forest University Press 2000
  • 20th Century Irish Poems (editor), Faber and Faber 2002
  • Cenotaph of Snow: Sixty Poems about War Enitharmon Press, 2003
  • Snow Water, Jonathan Cape / Wake Forest University Press 2004
  • The Rope-Makers: Fifty-Six Love Poems, Enitharmon Press, 2005
  • Michael Longley Reading from his Poems, The Poetry Archive 2005
  • Collected Poems, Cape 2006
  • John Hewitt: Selected Poems (editor with Frank Ormsby), Blackstaff Press 2007
  • A Jovial Hullabaloo, Enitharmon 2008
  • Wavelengths, Enitharmon 2009
Michael Longley (b.1939, Belfast) is a central figure in contemporary Irish poetry. A forceful figure within the Arts Council of Northern Ireland, where he founded the literary programme, he is one of the 200 distinguished artists who are members of Aosdána. He is also a Fellow of the Royal Society of Literature and a recipient of the Queen's Gold Medal for Poetry and the Wilfred Owen Award. In addition, he has won the Whitbread Prize, the T S Eliot Prize, the Hawthornden Prize, the Irish Times Irish Literature Prize for Poetry and the Librex Montale Prize. He was made a C.B.E. in the Queen's Birthday honours 2010.

Having been a Classics scholar at Trinity College seems to have infused Longley with the cadences of classical metres and with the stories and characters from Greek and Roman mythology. However, even when the poems make a direct reference to incidents from Homer, they bear witness to the contemporary moment: for example, the retrieval of Hector's body in 'Ceasefire', which was published just days after a ceasefire was called in Northern Ireland. Longley is also an expert at presenting the small pure moments of peace that are the opposite of violence, sometimes alone, as in 'Snow Water', sometimes in parallel, as in 'The Ice-cream Man'. Even when paralleled, his links are oblique and lightfooted; the murder of 'The Ice-cream Man' is surrounded by the attentive litany of flavours and flowers that demonstrate respect for each individual thing, but the difference is not remarked upon.

His respect and his eye for nature provide a group of beautiful nature poems, often set in West of Ireland, such as 'Remembering Carrigskeewaun'. And a last theme is love; Longley is married to Edna Longley, an excellent and seemingly strict critic - "if it wasn't for her, my oeuvre would be three times the size it is now" - who can be found in a (still oblique) love poem such as 'The Pattern'.

Longley's reading style, when he is using rhyme, does not allow its ring to overpower the sense; his metrical effects are delivered equally subtly in his gently inflected voice. The priority is, appropriately, always given to the clear presentation of what he has described as "those moments when language itself takes over the enterprise, and insight races ahead of knowledge."

His recording was made on 25 March 2001 at The Audio Workshop, London and was produced by Richard Carrington.

Search for a poem or a poet:

My Archive

Create lists of your favourite poems and poets and share them with friends.

Browse all poets by name

View all poets

Browse all poems by title

View all poems

Glossary of poetic terms

View full glossary
Historic recordings Hear famous voices from poetry's past.

View all historic recordings
Support The Poetry Archive The Poetry Archive depends on donations from public bodies and private individuals. Find out how you can contribute to the work of the Archive.