The main problem is how to be private in public. I try to lose myself by giving voice to the poems as straightforwardly as possible.
Even my earliest landscape poems sound anxious. Now my so-called nature poems are prompted by despair as much as by delight. We are making such a mess of everything. In Ireland we are methodically turning beauty spots into eyesores. I memorialise lovely places as they disappear.
Poetry gives things a second chance, perhaps now their only second chance. John Clare says ‘Poets love nature and themselves are love.’
Poetry is communal as well as individual…I love Donald Hall’s definition of poetic tradition as ‘conversations with the dead great ones and with the living young’. Poetry, even the most intensely lyrical, is unlikely to be a solo flight.
Extracts from Michael Longley Interview in Poetry Review, 2006.
Images from Linn Botanic Garden, Cove, Scotland.