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Maclean Dubois
Maclean Dubois
Publication Date
10 October 2013
In Stock
Birlinn Limited

A Voyage to Babylon

A First Sighting

‘Reader, get yourself a copy of this book... and enjoy the impressive debut of this exceptional poet.’ -- Daisy Mackenzie, Northwords Now

‘I do not know how this poet does what he does, but his work is endlessly... ‘‘pointing beyond itself’’. This poet uses silence; he can hush the trash in one’s mind and fill it with new-made repose.’ -- Candia McWilliam, Scotsman

A Turbulent Wake

‘This collection is a song of life, often at its most raw. Marsh is a master of shifting perspectives... he is fascinated by the act of creation in its widest sense – what it means to be human and how humanity finds beauty in art.’ Tania Nightingale – Dream Catcher The Goodman’s Daughter ‘The book has touches of real brilliance.... The cycle of poems about the Queen (Mary, Queen of Scots) is Marsh’s tour de force.... At the end of this volume all Scotland glitters under his touch.’ Charlotte Runcie – The Scotsman

'The title sequence is a work of really impressive depth, compression and power.’ Professor Edward Mendelson – Columbia University 

Henry Marsh is a poet at the height of his powers. This new collection of poems, the latest in the torrent of creativity that has inspired his writing over the last few years, contains some of his finest work to date. For its gravity, its understanding, and its sheer beauty, A Voyage to Babylon, must surely take its place amongst the very best achievements of any contemporary poet writing in English.

Once again history provides the inspiration for the major sequence in this volume. Scottish history, in which Henry Marsh has immersed himself with such passion and enthusiasm, is no picnic. In these poems we find ourselves in the turbulent years of the seventeenth century when Scotland was racked by religious strife and dynastic argument. It is sometimes difficult, from our twenty-first century perspective, to understand why people were so exercised over these matters. In this collection Henry Marsh puts us in the very shoes of those involved and helps us to understand what it was to live in that blood-stained and dramatic era. The result is an extraordinarily affecting poetic journey, as moving as it is enlightening.

But this book is not a history lesson. It is a lovely work of art in which language is used with remarkable effect. There is not a surplus word; there is not an image that could be bettered; there is no respect in which the dignity and sympathy that infuses these poems could be improved upon. And at the end, after reading the later, non-historical poems included as a second course to this feast, the reader is left with the sense of having been in the company of a wise and generous soul. And that, I think, is poetry’s greatest gift.

Henry Marsh was born in Broughty Ferry, Dundee in 1944. He now lives in Midlothian. His working life has been spent teaching English – with a bit of philosophy. His Ph.D thesis is a study of the modes of imagination. He began writing poetry in 2000 following the death of a friend, a Gaelic Bard, Donald MacDonald of South Lochboisdale. Four collections of his work have so far been published – A First Sighting, A Turbulent Wake, The Guidman’s Daughter and The Hammer and the Fire.

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