Nostalgia and memory, numinous visions and the earthy music of compound adjectives together control the short poems and sequences of the Irish Nobel laureate's 14th collection of verse, a work of familiar strengths and unparalleled charm. Old teachers, schoolmates, farmhands, and even the employees of an œEelworks arrive transfigured through Heaney's command of sound: a schoolmate whose family worked in the eel trade œwould ease his lapped wrist// From the flap-mouthed cuff/ Of a jerkin rank with eel oil,// The abounding reek of it/ Among our summer desks. The title poem applies Heaney's gift for physical mimesis to an image from the day's news: œbags of meal passed hand to hand... by the aid workers remind the poet of the grain-sacks he swung and dragged in his own youth. Other pages remember, and praise, libraries and classrooms--from grade school, from Harvard, and from medieval Irish monasteries, with their œriddle-solving anchorites. For all the variety of Heaney's framed glimpses, though, the standout poems grow from occasions neither trivial nor topical: Heaney in 2006 had a minor stroke, and the discreet analogies and glimpsed moments in poems such as œChanson d'Aventure (about a ride in an ambulance) and œIn the Attic ( œAs I age and blank on names ) bring his characteristic warmth and subtlety to mortality, rehabilitation, recent trauma, and old age.
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Nobel laureate Heaney is an earthy and mythic poet who channels the music and suffering of Ireland and, beyond that, the spiral of cultivation and destruction that sustains and endangers humankind. These are loamy, time-saturated poems, at once humble and exalted, taproots reaching into the underworld, flowers opening to the sun. Heaney writes of summer frolicking, hay baling, the death of a child, a hunger striker, berries, eels, and coal. Fluent in the classics, Heaney offers a redolent variation on the Aeneid titled “Route 110,” in which the world of paved roads and motor vehicles is revealed to be but a thin veneer. “Bread and pencils,” Heaney chants, holding fast to the nurturing, sensuous realm; to stones and plants and old books; to the way poems and stories link a boy to the “glittering reeling chain” that is human history. Just as heavy sacks of grain handed from aid worker to aid worker chart the ceaseless river of disasters and need, of succor and connection. Heaney puts faith in the actual, be it the wind, a kite, or an extended hand. --Donna Seaman --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.See all Editorial Reviews
Not his best book perhaps, but nothing that came out of the great man's pen has ever not been outstanding.Published 7 months ago by Lorraine H
Seamus Heaney would be magic if he weren't so real. Cast a spell and un-do it, that's what he does.Published 8 months ago by William Roddy
He was/is an amazing, insightful poet - not pretentious, not evasive, but honest, sometimes stunning in his portraits and observations. Read morePublished 15 months ago by J. L. Jones
Loved his subject matter and getting to the heart of the matter. I wish I had this book on audio so the nuances in his voice could be heard.Published 15 months ago by janeready
I read the book from front to end and thoroughly enjoyed it. Once that I will read again and again for piety is just that way. Read morePublished 19 months ago by William Stevenson
I love everything by Seamus Heaney and this was no different. He was a master. May he rest in peace. Read morePublished 21 months ago by K9 Canseliet
Only 85 pages, the last poems Heaney published before he died — too young at only 74 , If you have loved Heaney, you should have this small collection.Published 22 months ago by Judith Pines Fried