Seamus Heaney had the idea to form a personal selection of poems from across the entire arc of his writing life, small yet comprehensive enough to serve as an introduction for all comers. He never managed to do this himself, and no other edition exists that has such a broad range, drawing from the first to the last of his prizewinning collections. But now, finally, the project has been returned to, resulting in an intimate gathering of poems chosen and introduced by the Heaney family. In 100 Poems, readers will enjoy the most loved and celebrated poems, and will discover new favorites. It is a singular and welcoming anthology, reaching far and wide, for now and for years to come.
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.
(The Complete Works of William Shakespeare by William Shakespeare, 9789380914831)