Bookshop Window: A Rage for Order: Poetry of the Northern Ireland Troubles - Ed. Frank Ormsby: Blackstaff, pounds 12.95

Click to follow
The Independent Culture
The title comes from Derek Mahon: 'Somewhere beyond the scorched gable end and the burnt-out buses / there is a poet indulging / his wretched rage for order.' In dropping the fierce adjective, the editor makes this anthology sound like a conference of policemen or physicists, but the intention was to celebrate 'the values of art in a time of violence'. It is almost a cliche that turbulent times call forth the lyric impulse, and in Ireland's case the impulse doesn't take much calling. The book is full of superb work by Seamus Heaney, Louis MacNeice, Paul Muldoon, Michael Longley, John Hewitt and many others. The poems strike a tone of impressive dignified simplicity; and there is room enough to include outsiders - such as Kipling, Larkin, and Brodsky, who wrote:

Here's a girl from a dangerous town

She crops her dark hair short

so that less of her has to frown

when someone gets hurt.