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The Rain Barrel - cover

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The Rain Barrel

Frank Ormsby

Publisher: Bloodaxe Books

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Summary

Frank Ormsby's seventh collection of poems reflects not only the beauty of the Irish landscape and the sensuous and aesthetic impact of the small farms among which he grew up, but also the continuing violence of the 'Troubles'. Close to the surface of mountain and bogland lie the hidden graves of the 'Disappeared'. Ormsby continues to make vivid use of the short, resonant poems which were a striking feature of Goat's Milk and The Darkness of Snow. Here too the content is often delivered and reinforced through rich, contrasting images within or between poems: the scarlet flowers growing in a black kettle, the fuchsia that is both 'redolent of old battles' or a 'peaceful tapestry in the annals of stone'. Among the personae of the collection is the obliging father who volunteers to be buried by his children up to the neck in sand within sight of but some distance from the 'cold shadow of the mountain'. The elegiac note that echoes through the poems rarely darkens the mood. Ormsby’s wit and humour, his sly sense of the absurd and what might be called his affection for the living and the dead draw the reader into considering the conviction that it is sometimes 'possible to believe / that joy grows irresistibly at the roots of everything'.

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