Eyelevel: Fifty Histories
by Christopher Matthews
Foreword by Sydney Lea
The unrootedness of modern life, then, is as patent in Eyelevel as in The Waste Land, save that Matthews’s renderings spare us the least trace of Eliot’s Olympian condescension. His sympathy for the derelict is as great as for the aesthete; his identification is equally with the IBM drone and the trained stage actor; on and on. His grasp of the great vacany left in our collective contemporary souls by some deep and nameless Desire is as sure, as democratic, as heartbreaking as it could ever be. —Sydney Lea
In his own words, Christopher Matthews’s poems “reach the dark things that lie stark beyond” us. In his musical, richly storied poems we encounter, to quote him again, a “mind peeled for the word.” He is the latest treasure to reach these shores from Ireland. —Mark Jarman
Here is an authentic voice, and an important one. Christopher Matthews has a wide range of referents and an impressive flexibility of diction; these fifty parts cohere into an enlarging whole, and the story his histories tell is both humane and fierce. There are many masters echoed here, and an adept manipulation of cultural relics, as well as a forward-facing and ”eyelevel” scrutiny of what will come. It’s as though Browning were green again. A genuine poet, and a rewarding read. —Nicholas Delbanco
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
CHRISTOPHER MATTHEWS was born in Donegal, Ireland and grew up and was educated between that country and England. He took his bachelor’s degree at the University of Ulster and obtained a PH.D from the University of Durham: its subject was Ezra Pound. His poems have appeared in The American Scholar, Crazyhorse, The Dublin Review and other journals. He currently teaches literature to undergraduates in Lugano, Switzerland.
He mops at his eye, late March, where it's liquefying,
near the nose, that allergy,
then stares hard at the poster
freezing a small-girl choir, without pathos,
hard, the bane being pollen,
hence the oozing and kitchen towel, no hankie, the
cheap torn stuff
pranked with daft slogan
slike 'snort' and 'rump' and 'sneeze'
and a repeating white-heat moon.