In a new poetry collection, Ireland eschews the heavy hand for the light touch.
In a 1962 interview with fellow director Francois Truffaut, Alfred Hitchcock explained why he thought Psycho was his greatest work: “Psycho, more than any of my other pictures, is a film that belongs to filmmakers, to you and me.” In brief, it’s a filmmaking purist’s delight. It’s appropriate, then, that Ireland opens his new collection with a quote from that movie, as it proves him to be a poets’ poet—a verse-maker who saves some of his best effects for authors like himself. Ireland prefers more formal structures, and many, if not most, of the works in this set are rhyming poems in tight stanzas. Take, for example, the gorgeous piece “Lockwood,” which borrows its name from one of the narrators in Emily Brontë’s Wuthering Heights; one block reads, “She gave the grave such life: / The moths, the dew-steeped flowers, / The murmuring summer streams… / So much like living’s idle hours.” The imagery here is so rich, and the diction so precise, that one almost misses the elegant end rhyme in “flowers” and “hours.” In this way, the author’s technique is carefully deployed without being flamboyantly displayed, showing Ireland as a craftsman of real subtlety. Another highlight, “Mountain Development,” displays not only the writer’s skill, but also his debt to his poetic ancestors. It opens, “How long will it be / Before the path is gone, / Cleared, graded, / And gravel piled on?” It’s hard to read this piece through without thinking of Robert Frost, who famously wrote of lonely woods and untraveled paths. But again, Ireland’s tact prevails, and the influence remains a haunting echo. There are many such treasures hidden throughout the book, and it will be a pleasure for astute readers to seek them out.
A vibrant compilation that will appeal to poetry aficionados and amateurs alike.