A young Seamus Heaney recalls a blacksmith from his boyhood, while a much older Seamus Heaney illustrates the sometimes excessive power of retributive force (he says he was inspired by the U. S. military response to 9/11) by the swinging of a sledgehammer. The Forge All I know is a door into the … Continue reading “All I know is a door into the dark”: 2 Poems by Seamus Heaney
George Eliot, on empathy: The greatest benefit we owe to the artist, whether painter, poet, or novelist, is the extension of our sympathies…. Art is the nearest thing to life; it is a mode of amplifying experience and extending our contact with our fellow-men beyond the bounds of our personal lot. The only effect I … Continue reading The Poet Speaks #11: George Eliot, Ernest Hemingway, Philip Levine, Stephen King, Seamus Heaney: “struggling erring human creatures”
Then from the moor under misty hillsides, Grendel came gliding girt with God’s anger. The man-scather sought someone to snatch from the high hall. He crept under clouds until the caught sight of the king’s court whose gilded gables he knew at a glance. He … Continue reading The Great Myths #23: The Monster Grendel (Anglo-Saxon)
Are poets today largely talking to themselves? Are many of them happy to do so, locked away in academia or whatever other cloister? Are the ones who want a wider public, and who want to take on larger subjects, just curating their shelf of books for future generations to find? I heard somewhere that after … Continue reading The State of Poetry Now?
Here’s a nice anecdote told twice, first from some anonymous Irish source, and then Seamus Heaney’s version of it in verse. This was the first poem of Heaney’s I ever saw, back in high school when someone showed me the New York Times, perhaps when his book Seeing Things was reviewed there, or when he’d … Continue reading Ship in Air
Here’s Seamus Heaney, first talking about his poems on the bog bodies of Iron Age Europe, in Dennis O’Driscoll’s Stepping Stones, and then the bog poems themselves, spanning three of his collections: Wintering Out, North, and District and Circle. Also, since I hope to do a post on the bog bodies at some point, interested … Continue reading Heaney’s Bog Poems
Here’s Seamus Heaney talking about writing, from Dennis O’Driscoll’s book-length interview with him, Stepping Stones: On Inspiration On the week in May 1969 when he wrote “about forty poems”: It was a visitation, an onset, and as such, powerfully confirming. This you felt, was “it.” You had been initiated into the order of the inspired. … Continue reading Heaney on Writing
Here are some of Seamus Heaney’s memories of reading, writing, and poetry, from earliest schooldays to university, all taken from Dennis O’Driscoll’s wonderful book-length interview with him, Stepping Stones. Yes, my memory of learning to read goes back to my first days in Anahorish School, the charts for the letters, the big-lettered reading books. But … Continue reading Heaney Comes to Poetry