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Mrs Power Looks Over the Bay - Softcover

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9780571200290: Mrs Power Looks Over the Bay
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The Mrs Power referred to in the title of Fergus Allen's third collection is just one of the vividly realized figures, who inhabit the Ireland of its author's childhood and continuing obsession. By turns comic and grim, governed by an unmistakably original musical sense, the poems in Mrs Power Looks Over the Bay show their author writing to more eloquent purpose than ever before.

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Review:
In many of the poems in Fergus Allen's third collection, he places himself outside, looking in, a traditional pose for the poet, strengthened by being born in England to an English mother and Irish father and growing up in Ireland. In "The Visitant", a graceful, evocative poem, he locates himself in 1860, amidst Irish ancestors who become real, bustling, stained people, "not marionettes acting on my dictates." He fancies himself a ghost only seen by the women, then a hovering kestrel. His inability to fit in recurs in "In the Gaeltacht", where he's "packed off ... to learn from the native speakers" and guided through the ceilidhe "like a fugitive / Being passed from one safe house to the next." Being lost at sea occupies him in "Fishers of Fish" when the engine of a small boat packs up and they drift for miles, "the shore diminishing to a foreign hairline." The narrator is ambivalent about the catch that gives the trip purpose. "They lay around gulping on the planks / like victims of a gas attack, for whom / no love or remedy was in the offing ..." His gentle, optimistic, unlonely tone pervades and his love of the sea is central to the collection. "The Beachcombing" is one of the strongest. Here the sea is characterised as hard-working and indifferent to people on the shore and its debris holds menace. There is the fisherman's good-luck charm "tangled in sea-lettuce and carrageen" and "plastic bottles asleep under bladderwrack / Like babes in the woods around Enniscorthy." Even the ferry hides its feelings, "And all its lachrymose comings and goings" which have made and unmade Ireland's history. In one startling image the comber crosses "an invisible threshold" towards some dunlin who take-off, "turning as one, as an African hand might turn, / Pale palm showing briefly in the sunlight." All that is left is a broken comb and a baby's comforter plucked from the strand. In "Tennis in Wicklow", the humour blooms. A tennis player knows from the way his partner "spooned the ball" that she was not an opponent he could live with. In "Mismatch", amidst the "cirrus cigar smoke" and "double-dealing staircase", the suitor realises he is out of his class. In the final poem, "Fancy Dress", the suburban narrator fears his fate for not conforming: "Camouflaged as a writer of poems, / I cannot stop fiddling with my necklace." Allen's voice is measured and reassuring, his rhythms elegant and poised and his images delicate. --Cherry Smyth
Synopsis:
The Mrs Power referred to in the title of this collection is just one of the vividly realized figures who inhabit the Ireland of the author's childhood - and continuing obsession. By turns comic and grim, these poems exude and are governed by a clear musical rhythm.

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  • PublisherFaber & Faber
  • Publication date1999
  • ISBN 10 057120029X
  • ISBN 13 9780571200290
  • BindingPaperback
  • Number of pages112
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    3 avg rating
    ( 2 ratings by Goodreads )
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Book Description 1st edition. Very good copy in the original stiff-card wrappers; edges slightly nicked and dust-dulled as with age. Remains particularly and surprisingly well-preserved; tight, bright, clean and especially sharp-cornered. Physical description: 96 p.; 20cm. Subjects: Ireland - including Republic of Ireland. Western & Central Europe. Childhood & children. Irish Poetry 20th century. Genre: Irish poetry. 1 Kg. Seller Inventory # 323082

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