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PN Review 276
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This review is taken from PN Review 146, Volume 28 Number 6, July - August 2002.

CIARAN O'DRISCOLL, Moving On, Still There: New and Selected Poems (Dedalus) £7.95
NIGEL McLOUGHLIN, At the Waters' Clearing (Flambard & Ballyclare: Black Mountain) £7.00

Towards the beginning of his long poetic career, Pearse Hutchinson published poems in The Bell - then still under Sean O'Faolain's editorship - and John Ryan's short-lived Envoy. These two journals valiantly combated the provincialism of post-war Irish culture, promoting connections between Irish literature and, in particular, European writing. Both guttered out in the culturally airless Irish atmosphere of the early 1950s, though they were succeeded by Liam Miller's crucial Dolmen Press, which would publish Hutchinson's first book, Tongue Without Hands, in 1963. During this period, Hutchinson left an Ireland he saw as hidebound and insular for continental Europe, to spend almost a decade in Spain, thus inaugurating his work as translator from Catalan and Galaico-Portuguese (a volume of his translations, Done into English, is forthcoming from Gallery). During these years, he also published the first of his many Irish-language poems.

Hutchinson's Iberian sojourn colours many of the opening poems in this longoverdue Collected Poems; the vantage-point of Spain allows the poet to look again at the cramped horizons of Ireland after the socalled 'Emergency':

Cicada, Chameleon, lagarto:
exotic names have come to mean
more than exotic creatures: they mean Spain,
a youthful healing of some northern shame...

Though Spain constitutes a 'liberation from green fields', once 'half-understood', it somehow comes to be 'their explanation, and their praise'. To the chameleon and cicada, the poem now adds the resonant 'yellow bittern', the subject of a famous poem, 'An ...

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