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Drunken Sailor by John Montague, Wake Forest University Press, 2005, $11.95 paper, ISBN 1930630182.
John Montague's Drunken Sailor, his second volume since Collected Poems (1995), is a modest masterpiece of plainspoken beauty. At seventy-five, Montague continues to write accessible, visually rich, metrically pulsed poems in the music of Hiberno-English.
A symphony in four parts, Montague begins with ancient and primal images of a currach rolling outside Cork Harbor and filling with the "slithering frenzy" of mackerel and sea trout. In an eerie comment on late-life poems and the physical and mythic looming of death, Montague tells us
As a fish gleams most fiercely before it dies, so the scales of the sea-hag shine with a hectic putrescent glitter.
In "The Hag's Cove," …