Originally published in Hibernia, July 10th, 1980
John Ennis’ language is far richer than Harry Clifton’s, although sometimes leading to an opposite fault: that of puffing out lines where simple ones should have been preferred, as in the title- poem of A Drink of Spring ( Gallery, £3.60 / £1.80). While a poet of talent and power, Ennis also has a disconcerting habit of marring his work with the most abject bathos and only though strict culling and editing of future collection s will his strength as a poet be fully evident. A Drink of Spring includes several exactly- observed and deeply- felt poems, including ‘Meeting at a Salesyard’, the riveting ‘Mortuary’ and a noble fantasia on Mahler’s “Resurrection” Symphony. Verse as awkward as ‘Exit’ and Treatment by Suction’ (Retch and you retch all alone”) betrays an uncertainty of tone in an otherwise dignified monument to the poet’s father.
Words: Dennis O’Driscoll