Books for Independent Thinkers

Bloodaxe Books

The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass

by Harry Clifton

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  • Paperback
  • 96 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-852249-35-9
  • Published May 2012
  • Publisher Bloodaxe Books


At once a reckoning with a lost political legacy, a meditation on love, marriage and middle age, and a reaching back into foreign ancestry, The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass is Harry Clifton's fullest and most ambitious attempt so far to bring together, in a single book, the discordant elements of an evolving Ireland, as it discovers itself, through public and private destinies, in the 21st century.

"There is so much history in Harry Clifton's poems, so much geography, landscape, cityscape, repeopled precincts of the imagination, so much human drama and comedy; so many people, mythic, unlikely and hauntingly real. And all of it is limned with a masterful formal dexterity and an apparently limitless cultural curiosity."
C.K. Williams

"His dazzlingly accomplished book is arguably the first great work of Irish poetic post-modernism… His is a universe of aftermaths, hauntings and returns, in which even God…dreams of becoming flesh again… an Irish voice that is utterly contemporary in its restless movement through time and space."
Fintan O’Toole, Irish Times on Secular Eden

Harry Clifton is one of the finest and most widely travelled poets of his generation. He returned to Ireland in 2004, after sixteen years abroad, and began writing and publishing the poems that culminate, after seven years, in this timely new collection. He has published five other books of poetry, most recently Secular Eden: Paris Notebooks 1994-2004 (2007), winner of the Irish Times / Poetry Now Award. His other books include On the Spine of Italy (1999), his prose study of an Abruzzese mountain community, and Berkeley’s Telephone (2007), a collection of short fiction. He now lives in Dublin and is currently Ireland Professor of Poetry.

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The Winter Sleep of Captain Lemass