The rampant lyricism which characterizes so much of Irish literature ever since Joyce and to some extent because of him is certainly the strongest feature of Aidan Higgins' first novel (a short story collection appeared here in 1960) and it also fulfills the elegiac assonance of its title. The countryside has never been chillier, or danker: there is an inexorable sense of neglect and decay as it shrouds its once well-to-do gentry, in this case three sisters with no inheritance, no offers of marriage. In scenes which shuttle backwards and forwards in time, from the cemetery to the home of the Langrishe girls, the central part of the story deals with the first, late, and last affair of Imogen Langrishe, thirty-nine, and a German who lives rent free on the estate, which lasts through two springs, two summers, three autumns and two winters. He's a professional student, a crude, indolent, brutal type; she has ""dragged her rigid virtue about her like a hard penance"" but once awkwardly, wretchedly seduced, desire becomes a ""wild foray in the blood."" Some of this is overwritten, seemingly carelessly (phrases such as ""sweat and long lain in clothes"" appear twice within seven lines); but the style has a definite texture and thrust and it confirms and carries the story, drear as it is, through this provincial wasteland.