A First Sighting
92 page hardback
Maclean Dubois 2005
‘One of the great delights in a life of reading is the discovery of a poet. I recall the day on which I made my personal discovery of Auden. I remember, too, my first reading of the work of Robert Lowell and of that great and relatively unsung Ulster poet, Michael Longley. All of those who enjoy poetry will have such memories. In reading this collection of poems by Henry Marsh I experienced such a moment, and I suspect many others will do the same. This is fine poetry – measured, delicate, and utterly beautiful.
The subject matter of the poems ranges from the personal – encounters with friends, recollections of journeys – to the detached observation of landscape and what it means to us. The voice is at all times assured, the insights profound. And it is impossible not to be moved by the grave beauty of the language and the quiet dignity of Henry Marsh’s reflections.
In this collection the poet’s gaze moves form the soft landscape of the Scottish islands, lovingly described, to the hills and towers of quite different places – of Italy, of America. But ultimately he returns to Scotland and to what its past and present mean to him. In doing so, he presents us with the gift of a brilliant, memorable collection which gently, but most surely, touched the heart.’
Alexander McCall Smith
From reviews of A First Sighting:
‘…a brief apprenticeship one might suppose. From where then comes the range of themes, the masterly craftsmanship, the quiet emotional power? …this poet can also tease and dance in a fine figure. Reader, get yourself a copy of this book… and enjoy the impressive debut of this exceptional poet.’
Daisy Mackenzie, Northwords Now
‘Henry Marsh bears witness to islands, to the small, to what we have to do against sorrow. Yet so silken is his hold on remaking nature and thought and sense in words that… he doesn’t crush even a poppy’s petal as his spirit enfolds it…. I do not know how this poet does what he does, but his work is endlessly… ‘pointing beyond itself’… This poet uses silence; he can hush the trash in one’s mind and fill it with new-made repose.’
Candia McWilliam. The Scotsman
Four of these poems have been set as four-part songs by Christopher Brown, a composer with an international reputation, especially for vocal music. ‘Sunlight on a pale green ocean’, was commissioned by the New Cambridge Singers to celebrate Christopher’s sixty-fifth birthday. The poems are, ‘Atlantic Beach’, ‘Corncrake’, ‘Spring in South Uist’ and ‘Evening at Gearraidh Bhailteas’.
Basking Shark off the Isle of Canna
Cover photo by Adam West