Review of Dolmen Hill by Robert Greacen

Originally published in 1978

A paean of praise for the third book, John Ennis’s Dolmen Hill. And yet I have a grumble. Poems that have a plethora of Graeco- Roman names and images tend to make me shy off, muttering O my homer and my Virgil long ago! But I waded through ‘Orpheus’, the long poem in Dolmen Hill, and found the water scintillatingly ice- cold. It’s about Thrace, Eurydice, Callilope and all, and is divided into Cantos, rather like Pound, bit written with immense verve and vigour. And example Cato V begins:

Calliope re-swaddled her baby in the light blue flimsy clothes,
Her Epics brought in…

At this point I exclaimed: “Ireland was never like this!” What money for Epics? However, I continued to Canto XI

Boss of the Argo, Jason, yawned,
“Orpheus, you’re the spunkiest lad since talented Prometheus”…

when I wondered if the bringer of fire could be called “talented”? But I should add that for all its fascination I prefer the rest of the poems, those which have no word of Graeco- Roman, such as the beautiful, tender- savage, ‘Birth at Airmount’, or the exquisite ‘Villanelle’, which I wish I could quote in full.

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