July 2013. 72 pp. ISBN-13 978-3-901993-40-4
"This is a wonderful collection of poems by a subtle genius who deserves a very wide audience. It is the atmosphereof music, with its structures and disciplines, that both saturates and refines the poetry of Jim Maguire. Language is hiskeyboard now, and he makes highly disciplined poetry with its inky black keys. His company is Mussorgsky, Brahms and Schubertas he moves through the rooms of life, wondering why the days can turn out for the worst or why it is not enough to merelysit and contemplate. His masterpieces here, 'Duparc: A Programme Note' and 'Before Music' are two of the most perfect poemsI've read in many years, but they are only two of at least a dozen astonishing creations. Here is a master who knows themusic of what happens, who understands the aliveness of the ordinary. Maguire is the Glenn Gould of our Irish poetry,walking out with 'the purple love / I harbour for the things I fear'."
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Table of Contents
Excerpts from Music Field
Then comes the bit he's been practicing for years
but still can't get his hands around. The melody's
giddy unwrapping above the distressed inner parts,
the bass-line an unimpressed patriarchal yawn.
So why the end-of-world hush that falls over the hall?
As if on the cyclorama Lady Lavery as Caitlín
has stepped out of the pound into a stony field
with its single windswept tree like a headscarf.
Is it the tree she's trying to stare down or the boy
half-hidden behind in stiff breeches and spats,
outlandish get-up for a field, not to mention his hair
full of flowers - poppy, marigold, cyclamen -
a key in his head for each, all flat-majors and a minor
for the fuzzy horizon. Two unrelated themes
in a field, slow-circling, waiting for the trouble to begin.
It is the frozen depths of Finland.
It is the chill blue of unrisen silences in a room.
It is cajoling her into playing
and finding she cannot.
How dark the evenings have grown.
Air-raid sirens in full wail.
Women scurrying through fetid alleyways.
The music boy squats
by the collapsed pomegranates.
In the white-tiled chamber
the criminal glitter of the interrogator's eye:
You cannot go on like this.
I am the newspaper sheet
skittering among the trees.
havoc from the village fountain.
A wind circles my house.
Spiders seek my heart.
It is plainsong turned to gunshot in my ear.
At night I found myself on the outskirts,
stiff with filth and buddha-dust.
Between the mountains,
a thread of smoke rises
from the hermit's campfire.
Reviews of Music Field
"In Music Field [...] music features prominently as subject and vehicle (sometimes in metaphor) for anapprehension of the world. [...] the work is permeated by a sense both of the solidity of the real and an openness tothe odd (and quasi-surreal) [...]. Best of all are the poems in which the language of music articulates the widerexperience of the world, as in 'Turning' (an outstanding finale to the book) [...]. The whole makes for exhilaratingreading (doubtless it helps if you share some of Maguire's musical enthusiasms) and is very firmly recommended."
"Here we have a true embodiment of the inwardness of things, the terrors of 'the cliffs of the mind' when it yearnsfor perfection [...]. The inspiration comes from within, not without, [...] a spirit determined not to be'mired in the rutted lanes'. Design here comes from intuition, not from preconception, seeking the hidden effectsof music and its effects upon the mind."
"What gives greatest pleasure here, what lends the poems such assurance and solidity, is the sense of the poemsdiscovering themselves as they go. [...] Music Field works in a manner that is as complex and challengingand pleasureable as the greatest of music."
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