Spiritual orphanhood, the loss and protection of innocence – from the first estates of Dublin to the karmic wastes of northern China – lie at the heart of this new collection by the eminent Irish poet Harry Clifton. Herod’s Dispensations shows his work now reaching beyond middle age, to revisit – in meditations on death and migration – the territories of the Far East from his early years, in the light of a new nomadic age.
Harry Clifton has published nine other books of poetry, most recently The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass (2012), The Holding Centre: Selected Poems 1974-2004 (2014) and Portobello Sonnets (2017).
'There is so much history in Harry Clifton's poems, so much geography, landscape, cityscape, repeopled precincts of the imagination, so much human drama and comedy; so many people, mythic, unlikely and hauntingly real. And all of it is limned with a masterful formal dexterity and an apparently limitless cultural curiosity' – C.K. Williams.
'The poems begin with something seen, remembered, or suddenly known, or a melancholy feeling about time passing, or complex emotions about love, and then they take a longer view, or hold their breath while a new tone, filled with sonorous risk and odd wisdom slowly seeps into an end-line of a stanza or a new section of a poem… There are moments when you hold your breath… and you sit up in pure delight… there are a number of poems in this book that will be read as long as any poems are read anywhere… The last poem, "Oweniny, Upper Reaches", filled with soft, haunting cadences and strange, ambiguous musings on solitude, memory and the meaning of things, is a masterpiece. It displays Clifton’s reticence and technical skill against the need to let the poem soar into a truth that emerges from the gap between the words, and then it allows the words themselves to glide up and out in all their hushed and controlled beauty' - Colm Tóibín, Irish Times on The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass.
‘Clifton’s civilised appreciation of the cosmopolitan fluidity of his chosen place is matched by the fluency of these sonnets… Clifton’s is a sophisticated and humanistic imagination, alert to the saving human detail and at some level always in search of the bigger picture. His work is ridden by time and the sense that there is nothing new under the sun except the capacity for seeing the world afresh.’ – Sean O’Brien, The Guardian on Portobello Sonnets
‘His dazzlingly accomplished book is arguably the first great work of Irish poetic post-modernism… His is a universe of aftermaths, hauntings and returns, in which even God…dreams of becoming flesh again… an Irish voice that is utterly contemporary in its restless movement through time and space’ – Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times on Secular Eden.