Synopses & Reviews
"Between my fingers and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
Ill dig with it."
Selected Poems 1966-1987 assembles the groundbreaking work of the first half of Seamus Heaneys 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.
Praise for Seamus Heaney
"Perhaps the best descriptions of Seamus Heaney's extraordinarily rich and varied oeuvre come from the poet's own work. Mr. Heaney has created a remarkable series of poems that stay 'true to the impact of external reality' while at the same time remaining 'sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being.'" —Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times
"Having just reread most of his poems, I find myself more, not less, interested, and convinced that I have only begun to plumb their bracing depths . . . The poems stay in the mind, which is the one essential feature of major poetry." —Jay Parini, The Nation
"Heaney's commitment to the independence of his art, to the pursuit of shape and richness and abundant ambiguity, is also a profound commitment to the quality of public life . . . In a dark time, Heaney . . . has turned borders and dividing lines into rich frontiers." —Fintan O'Toole, The New York Review of Books
"Arguably the finest poet now writing in English." —James Shapiro, The New York Times Book Review
About the Author
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."