John Montague’s poetry


Sir, – I was saddened to read such an ill-judged dismissal of John Montague in Saturday’s edition (Books, January 11th). To describe the author of The Rough Field, The Great Cloak, All Legendary Obstacles, Herbert Street Revisited and numerous other classics of 20th-century Irish poetry as “almost never electrifying or revelatory” is so far wide of the mark as to be laughable, and I can assure your reviewer that for anyone who cares about the achievement of Irish poetry, John Montague’s immaculately crafted and moving body of work is absolutely essential.

As Eiléan Ní Chuilleanáin has so eloquently put it: “To read the poems of four decades is to come on lines, phrases, and whole poems that have become proverbial as summing up the turning points of Ireland’s political and social transformations.”

He certainly deserves a more considered assessment than Sean Hewitt affords him. – Yours, etc,


Dublin 8.