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Derek Mahon is one of the leading poets of his time, both in Ireland and
beyond, famously offering a perspective that is displaced from as much as
grounded in his native country. From prodigious beginnings to prolific
maturity, he has been, through thick and thin, through troubled times and
other, a writer profoundly committed to the art of poetry and the craft of
making verse. He has also been no-less a committed reviser of his work,
believing the poem to be more than a record in verse, but a work of art never
This virtuoso study by Hugh Haughton provides the most comprehensive account
imaginable of Mahon's oeuvre. Haughton's brilliant writing always serves and
illuminates the poetry, yielding extraordinary insights on almost every page.
The poetry, its revisions and reception, are the subject here, but so thorough
is the approach that what is offered also amounts indirectly to an intellectual
biography of the poet and with it an account of Northern Irish poetry vital to
our understanding of the times.