THE HUNGRY GRASS is one continuous poem that unfolds over the course of fifteen years, telling a story that nobody knows because in its time, nobody cared. The individual lives of Irish labourers were unrecorded, irrelevant. Murphy weaves the threads of daily routine, annual cycles, religious faith, fairy belief, communal practice, and political reality to show as clear a picture as possible of the complex lives of tenant families in the nineteenth century. The poet begins with the little she knows of her Murphy ancestors: the names and birthdates of the six who survived to emigrate, and the name of the parish where they lived. She never falters in evoking its theme, or in being focused and concise, with impeccable word choices, and unfailing, echoing rhythm.