Heaney's version of Philoctetes is a fast-paced, brilliant work ideally suited to the stage. Heaney holds on to the majesty of the Greek original, but manages to give his verse the flavor of Irish speech and context.
Selected Poems 1966-1987 assembles the groundbreaking work of the first half of Seamus Heaney's extraordinary career. This edition, arranged by the author himself, includes the seminal early poetry that struck readers with the force of revelation and heralded the arrival of an heir to Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and Robert Frost.
Helen Vendler called Heaney "a poet of the in-between," and the work collected here dwells in the borderlands dividing the ancient and the contemporary, the mythic and the quotidian. Gathering poetry from his first seven collections, Selected Poems 1966-1987 presents the young man from County Derry, Northern Ireland, who "emerged from a hidden, a buried life" in Death of a Naturalist (1966), with his cherished poems "Digging" and "Mid-term Break"; the poet of conscience "as bleak as he is bright" in "Whatever You Say Say Nothing" and "Singing School"; and the astonishingly gifted, mature craftsman behind Field Work (1979) and Station Island (1984)-an artist uncannily attuned to the "music of what happens," restlessly searching "for images and symbols adequate to our predicament."
This volume, together with its companion Selected Poems 1988-2013, allows us to revisit the essential work of one of the great writers of our age through his own compilation.
Seamus Heaney's new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present—the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, of lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems that stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other "hermit songs" that weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet's early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled "Route 101" plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s childhood to the birth of a first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead—friends, neighbors, family—that is yet wholly and movingly vernacular.
Human Chain also includes a poetic "herbal" adapted from the Breton poet Guillevic—lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things and landscapes that exclude human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.
In a momentous publication, Seamus Heaney's translation of Book VI of the Aeneid, Virgil's epic poem composed sometime between 29 and 19 BC, follows the hero, Aeneas, on his descent into the underworld. In Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, Heaney acknowledged the significance of the poem to his writing, noting that "there's one Virgilian journey that has indeed been a constant presence, and that is Aeneas's venture into the underworld. The motifs in Book VI have been in my head for years--the golden bough, Charon's barge, the quest to meet the shade of the father."
In this new translation, Heaney employs the same deft handling of the original combined with the immediacy of language and sophisticated poetic voice as was on show in his translation of Beowulf, a reimagining which, in the words of James Wood, "created something imperishable and great that is stainless--stainless, because its force as poetry makes it untouchable by the claw of literalism: it lives singly, as an English language poem."
In the finland of perch, the fenland of alder, on air
That is water, on carpets of Bann stream, on hold
In the everything flows and steady go of the world.
Seamus Heaney's new collection travels widely in time and space, visiting the sites of the classical world and revisiting the poet's childhood: rural electrification and the light of ancient evenings are reconciled within the orbit of a single lifetime. This is a book about origins (not least, the origins of words) and oracles: the places where things start from, the ground of understanding -- whether in Arcadia or Anahorish, the sanctuary at Epidaurus or the Bann valley in County Derry.
Electric Light ranges from short takes to conversation poems. The pre-Socratic wisdom that everything flows is held in tension with the elegizing of friends and fellow poets. These gifts of recollection renew the poet's calling to assign things their proper names; once again Heaney can be heard extending his word hoard and roll call in this, his eleventh collection.
Along with a selection from the poet's three previous collections of prose (Preoccupations, The Government of the Tongue, and The Redress of Poetry), the present volume includes Heaney's finest lectures and a rich variety of pieces not previously collected in volume form, ranging from short newspaper articles to radio commentaries. In its soundings of a wide range of poets -- Irish and British, American and Eastern European, predecessors and contemporaries -- Finders Keepers is, as its title indicates, "an announcement of both excitement and possession."
'His is "close-up" poetry - close up to thought, to the world, to the emotions. Few writers at work today, in verse or fiction, can give the sense of rich, fecund, lived life that Heaney does.' John Banville
'More than any other poet since Wordsworth he can make us understand that the outside world is not outside, but what we are made of.' John Carey
'Heaney's voice, by turns mythological and journalistic, rural and sophisticated, reminiscent and impatient, stern and yielding, curt and expansive, is one of a suppleness almost equal to consciousness itself.' Helen Vendler
Volume Three of the definitive collection of Seamus Heaney reading his own work, recorded in in 2009 by RTE. Volume Three contains four collections published between 1996 and 2010: The Spirit Level, Electric Light, District and Circle and Human Chain. To the RTE recordings Faber has added live readings by the poet of eleven poems from his twelfth and final collection, Human Chain (2010)