Seamus Heaney 1939–
(Full name Seamus Justin Heaney) Irish poet, critic, essayist, editor, and translator.
Heaney is widely considered Ireland's most accomplished contemporary poet and has often been called the greatest Irish poet since William Butler Yeats. In his works, Heaney often focuses on the proper roles and responsibilities of a poet in society, exploring themes of self-discovery and spiritual growth as well as addressing political and cultural issues related to Irish history. His poetry is characterized by sensuous language, sexual metaphors, and nature imagery. Soon after he won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, commentator Helen Vendler praised Heaney "the Irish poet whose pen has been the conscience of his country."
The eldest of nine children, Heaney was raised a Roman Catholic in Mossbawn, County Derry, a rural community in Protestant Northern Ireland. At age eleven he received a scholarship to Saint Columb's College in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, and left his father's farm. At Queen's University in Belfast, he was introduced to Irish, American, and English literature and exposed to artists such as Ted Hughes, Patrick Kavanaugh, and Robert Frost. While at university, Heaney contributed several poems to literary magazines under the pen name Incertus. After graduating with honors in 1961, he taught secondary school, later returning to Queen's University as a lecturer. During this time he also established himself as a prominent literary figure with the publication of Death of a Naturalist in 1966, his first volume of poetry. In 1969, when fighting broke out between Catholics and Protestants in Belfast, Heaney began to address the unrest's causes and effects in his poetry. He and his family moved to a cottage outside Dublin in 1972, where he wrote full-time until he accepted a teaching position at Caryfort College in Dublin in 1975. He has also taught at Harvard and Oxford Universities and has frequently traveled to the United States and England to give poetry readings and lectures. Having already won numerous awards for his poetry and translations, Heaney was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995.
Heaney's first volume, Death of a Naturalist (1966), is imbued with the colors of his Derry childhood; these early works evince sensuous memories associated with nature
and with his childhood on his family's farm. Evoking the care with which his father and ancestors farmed the land, Heaney announces in the first poem in the collection, "Digging," that he will figuratively "dig" with his pen. In his next published volume, Door into the Dark (1969), Heaney also incorporates nature and his childhood as prominent themes.
Much of Heaney's poetry addresses the history of social unrest in Northern Ireland and considers the relevance of poetry in the face of violence and political upheaval. In his next collection Wintering Out, for example, are a series of "bog poems" that were inspired by the archaeological excavation of Irish peat bogs containing preserved human bodies that had been ritually slaughtered during the Iron Age. Heaney depicts the victims of such ancient pagan rites as symbolic of the bloodshed caused by contemporary violence in Ireland. North (1975) develops this historical theme further, using myth to widen its universality. In such poems as "Ocean's Love to Ireland" and "Act of Union," Heaney portrays the English colonization of Ireland as an act of violent sexual conquest. Field Work (1979) does not depart from Heaney's outrage at the violence in Northern Ireland but shifts to a more personal tone. The collection encompasses a wide range of subjects: love and marriage, mortality, and the regenerative powers of self-determination and the poetic imagination.
Translating Sweeney Astray (1984) from the Irish tale Buile Suibhne allowed Heaney to work with myth, for he brings to the English-speaking world the warrior-king Sweeney's adventures after a curse has transformed him into a bird. Station Island (1984) is also concerned with Irish history and myth. Patterned after Dante's Divine Comedy in its tripartite structure, the central section describes a threeday pilgrimage taken by Catholics to the Irish Station Island seeking spiritual renewal. There the narrator encounters the souls of his dead ancestors and Irish literary figures who speak to him, stirring from him a meditation on his life and art.
The Haw Lantern (1987) contains both parables of Irish life and poems such as "From the Republic of Conscience" and "From the Canton of Expectation." This volume also includes a series of poems entitled "Clearances," which chronicles his relationship with his mother. In Seeing Things (1991) Heaney diverges from his previous emphasis on politics and civic responsibility, returning to the autobiographical themes of childhood experience and Irish community ritual. Feelings of loss and yearning are prominent motifs in the collection, as many poems evoke celebratory images of Heaney's deceased father, who appears frequently throughout the volume.
Critics of Heaney's early work were immediately impressed by his freshness of expression and command of detail. He has been praised for his political poems, especially those that depict the violence between Roman Catholics and Protestants in Northern Ireland. In these poems, it has been noted that Heaney also addresses Ireland's cultural tensions and divisions through the linguistic duality of his poetry, which draws upon both Irish and English literary traditions. Critical commentary has traced the thematic development of Heaney's work, contending that as his later poems continue to address the unrest in Northern Ireland, they also incorporate a more personal tone as Heaney depicts the loss of friends and relatives to the violence. As his most recent work diverges from his previous emphasis on politics and civic responsibility, Heaney returns to the autobiographical themes of childhood experience and Irish community ritual. Many critics have lauded these poems for their imaginative qualities and their focus on visionary transcendence experienced through ordinary life events.
Heaney has been commended for his experimentation with form and style, in particular in the volumes Seeing Things and Station Island. His efforts to integrate meaning and sound often result in vivid descriptions, witty metaphors, and assonant phrasing. By most critics he is acclaimed as one of the foremost poets of his generation and is very favorably compared to such poets as Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, Michael Hartnett, and Ted Hughes.
Death of a Naturalist 1966
Door into the Dark 1969
Wintering Out 1972
Field Work 1979
Poems: 1965-1975 1980
Station Island 1984
Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish [translator and adapter] (poetry) 1984
The Haw Lantern 1987
Seeing Things 1991
The Spirit Level 1996
Other Major Works
Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978 (essays) 1980 The Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose, 1978-1987 (essays) 1988
The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (drama) 1990
The Redress of Poetry (lectures) 1995
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SOURCE: "Description as Poetry," in Kenyon Review, Vol. XXIX, No. 1, January, 1967, pp. 140-46.
[In the following excerpt, Galler explores the expository nature of Heaney's poems in Death of a Naturalist.]
Description—the details of what is being observed or performed—is the basis of all writing: epic, narrative, dramatic, or lyric. And this is the case whether the mind works through the eye directly or behind the eye by the various methods of analogy. But prior to this century poetry was not made of the kind of description that permits the reader no leap whatever to a plane of experience related to but more complete than that which is being observed. What has happened in this century increasingly, and in America especially, is the trend toward description replete with exposition, but lacking complication….
Death of a Naturalist, Seamus Heaney's interesting first book, is made up of description whichremains exposition, with one or two exceptions (notably 'For the Commander of the 'Eliza'"). Heaney, a young Irishman, has been absurdly compared to Edwin Muir by his publisher and presumably by some reviewers. Both poets grew up on farms, and there the similarity ends. Heaney's characteristic poems describe specific events with which he appears to be more familiar than many of us—as in "Churning Day":
This poet leaves no doubt as to what he's...
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SOURCE: "A Soft Grip on the Sick Place: The Bogland Poetry of Seamus Heaney," in The Dublin Magazine, Vol. 10, No. 3, Autumn-Winter, 1973-1974, pp. 86-90.
[In the following essay, Bidwell draws a connection between Heaney's metaphor of the bog and Irish republicanism.]
In the spring of 1781 Lord Moira, a landlord with vast holdings in County Down, was approached by his rather sheepish estate agent with a story which led to the first documented find of what are now referred to as the bog-people. He presented Lord Moira with a plait of hair which had been found on a human skull—a skull belonging to a woman buried in the bog nearly 1800 years before.
The details of the discovery can be found in Lady Moira's account published in a contemporary London archaeological journal. While cutting turf the previous autumn in a small peat bog on Drumkeragh Mountain, one of Lord Moira's tenants had sliced into the skull of the woman. He had immediately reburied her but not before removing the clothing and ornaments found in the grave. It was only through bribery that Lady Moira was able to get the story in front of her husband and only by offering rewards did she finally recover some of the clothing and gems taken over the winter.
Upon investigation, the skeleton was found lying under a thick bed of peat at the bottom of the bog. A gravel layer provided a base and large stones had...
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SOURCE: "Beginnings," in Seamus Heaney, Bucknell University Press, 1975, pp. 19-35.
[In the following excerpt from the full-length study of Heaney's work, Buttel examines the seminal influences on Heaney's early poetry.]
"A poet begins involved with craft, with aspirations that are chiefly concerned with making," Seamus Heaney has said in a statement about his aims which he wrote two or three years ago to accompany a selection of his poems (Corgi Poets in Focus 2). The poet "needs a way of saying and there is a first language he can learn from the voices of other poets, dead and alive." He could have cited "Turkeys Observed" as an illustration of part of his own apprenticeship; this poem, which appeared in the Belfast Telegraph in 1962 (and later in Death of a Naturalist), was his first published one aside from several published before then over the pseudonym Incertus in Gorgon and Q, Queen's University literary magazines. It is not that one detects specific models; rather, the poem seems an exercise in applying some of the standard practices of modern poetry. The poem is characterized by imagistic exactitude: a dead turkey is "A skin bag plumped with inky putty." And it employs a conceit of the sort favored by the Thirties poets: "I find him ranged with his cold squadrons:/ The fuselage is bare, the proud wings snapped,/ The tail-fan stripped down to a shameful rudder"...
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SOURCE: "Poetry and Terror," in The New York Review of Books, Vol. 23, No. 15, September 30, 1976, pp. 38-40.
[In the following laudatory review of North, Murphy discusses the defining characteristics of Heaney's poetry.]
Visitors to Ireland have often remarked that we seem to live in the past. They note our strong attachment to beliefs which were held in the Dark Ages and our inability to end a conflict which goes back to the religious wars of the seventeenth century. Our moist green landscape charms them, where it remains unpolluted by modern industry. They see fields full of cattle, which have been a source of wealth since the mythical wars of Cuchulain and Maeve. The oceanic island atmosphere takes away their sense of time, and gives them instead an illusion that the past is retrievable, perhaps even happening today. Clergy strengthen this illusion by teaching in churches and schools that the dead will be resurrected. Our earth itself, with those vast wet bogs in the center of the island, seems to absorb the present and preserve the past. Here funerals draw much larger crowds than weddings. Ruins and buried remains are so plentiful that archaeologists have an endless future digging back through time. In this climate poetry flourishes, and the poet who has shown the finest art in presenting a coherent vision of Ireland, past and present, is Seamus Heaney.
He was born on a farm...
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SOURCE: A review of Field Work, in New Republic, Vol. 181, No. 3389, December 22, 1979, pp. 31-3.
[In the following essay, Pinsky provides a favorable review of Field Work.]
The poems of Seamus Heaney give several kinds of pleasure: first of all, he is a talented writer, with a sense of language and rhythm as clean, sweet, and solid as newworked hardwood. Beyond that, his previous book, North, showed inspiringly that his talent had the limberness and pluck needed to take up some of the burden of history—the tangled, pained history of Ireland. Heaney's success in dealing with the murderous racial enmities of past and present, avoiding all the sins of oratory, and keeping his personal sense of balance, seems to me one of the most exhilarating poetic accomplishments in many years.
It is no real dispraise of Field Work to observe that it is a less original, less heroically stretched work than North. There is a distinct feeling of artistic Tightness about the relatively more measured qualities of these new poems: they present a less agonized manner, and a more actual Ireland, seen from closer to ground level.
In North, the English language was partly reinvented to emphasize words rooted in the tongues of the remote Scandinavian invaders, a thorny cadence and vocabulary of Germanic and Celtic parts jammed together, with Frenchified or...
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SOURCE: "The Matter of Ireland and the Poetry of Seamus Heaney," in Dutch Quarterly Review, Vol. IX, No. 1,1979, pp. 4-23.
[In the following excerpt, Zoutenbier traces the thematic and stylistic development of Heaney's verse.]
Seamus Heaney was born in Country Derry, Northern Ireland, in 1939, the oldest of nine children; and spent the first fourteen years of his life at Mossbawn, near Lough Neagh in County Derry, where his father was a fanner and cattle dealer. From the primary school at Anahorish, he moved on to St Columb's, a Catholic boarding school in Derry, and then to Queen's University, Belfast, where he read English and where, after working in a Belfast secondary school and in a teacher training college, he returned to teach. In 1972, he gave up teaching for full-time writing, moving with his family to the Irish Republic, to a cottage that was a gate lodge of Glanmore Castle on the former Synge estate in Wicklow. He has since moved back into Dublin, living with his wife and three children in Sandymount, and teaching at Carysfort College, a Catholic teacher training college, where he is head of the English department. He is a member of the Irish Arts Council, and runs a fortnightly book programme on Irish radio. So far Heaney has published four volumes of poetry, Death of a Naturalist (1966), Door into the Dark (1969), Wintering Out (1972), and North (1975); a...
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SOURCE: "Crossed Pieties," in Parnassus: Poetry in Review, Vol. XI, No. 2, Spring-Summer, 1984, pp. 336-48.
[In the following review of Heaney's two volumes of collected poetry and prose, Shapiro relates the stylistic and thematic development of Heaney's poetry to his assertion of personal and national identity.]
There's an old Gaelic poem which goes, "Who ever heard/ Such a sight unsung/ As a severed head/ With a grafted tongue." This image—of a culture severed from the body of its own traditions and forced to speak another language—indicates the profound dilemma facing every Anglo-Irish poet fated to discover and express in English, the oppressor's tongue, his personal and national identity. One might even say that this identity resides, if anywhere, in the hyphen separating the Anglo from the Irish. Pulled in one direction by the English literary tradition, pulled in another by a social and political tradition which continues its centuries-old antagonism to all things English, the Irish poet finds himself inescapably involved in a bleak and unromantic triangle: if Irish culture is his wife, English is his mistress, and to satisfy one is necessarily to betray the other. And yet it is precisely in the Irish poet's response to this dilemma, in the thematic and stylistic strategies he devises to maintain his own identity in the oppressor's language, that one can find in Anglo-Irish poetry what seems...
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SOURCE: A review of Station Island, in The New Yorker, Vol. LXI, No. 31, September 23, 1985, pp. 108, 111-12, 114-16.
[In the following excerpt, Vendler examines the major themes of Heaney's Station Island.]
Station Island, also known as St. Patrick's Purgatory, is an island in Lough Derg, in northwest Ireland. It has been a site of pilgrimage for centuries; tradition says that St. Patrick once fasted and prayed there. The island gives its name to Seamus Heaney's purgatorial new collection, containing five years' work—Station Island. The book reflects the disquiet of an uprooted life—one of successive dislocations. Heaney's life began in Castledawson, in Northern Ireland; he was educated at St. Columb's College, in Derry, and then at Queen's University, Belfast (where he later taught); he moved in 1972 to the Republic of Ireland, first to Wicklow and later to Dublin, free-lancing and teaching. A stint of teaching at Berkeley, from 1970 to 1971, began his acquaintance with the United States; now he is the Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard, and divides his time between Cambridge and Dublin. Though these dislocations and uprootings have been voluntary, they could not be without effect, and the title poem of the new volume reviews, in a series of memorial encounters, the "stations" of Heaney's life—especially that of his adolescence, hitherto scanted in his work. The...
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SOURCE: An interview with Seamus Heaney, in The Literary Review, Vol. XXIX, No. 2, Winter, 1986, pp. 161-69.
[In the following interview, Heaney discusses his writing habits, the origin of Sweeney Astray, and the work of other contemporary poets.]
Seamus Heaney, the poet from Ireland, has just been granted tenure at Harvard. We can all breathe a sigh of relief, now that we now have an important poet in residence (half-time) in Cambridge who is impeccable in his behavior and projects a dignity that students can respect. As a matter of fact, so popular is Heaney with the students that they speak of him with a near-reverence (in spite of the difficulties they have getting into his "limited-enrollment" workshops). His spring lectures, which are held in the auditorium hall at the Science Center, are always filled with admirers, both students and faculty, and a feeling pervades that these comments on poetry will someday be of historical significance. And, true to form, the talks are beautifully crafted, highly informed appraisals of contemporary poets (and coevals of Heaney himself), full of wit and drawn out of his own deep fund of erudition.
Heaney is a difficult poet to get to know. A good-natured, cheerful man, of a muscular, thewy build, his muted persona contrasts sharply with the flamboyance of Irish poets who came before him—poets like Brendan Behan whose excesses in drink...
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SOURCE: "Seamus Heaney's Poetry of Meditation: Door into the Dark," in Twentieth Century Literature, Vol. XXXIII, No. 1, Spring, 1987, pp. 1-17.
[In the following prize-winning essay, Hart analyzes the opposing, yet interwoven themes of Heaney's poetry, maintaining that the poet finds "precedents in a tradition of Catholic meditation but give to the old forms a new complexity and an attractive, personal finish."]
Images of dark and light appear so frequently in poetic tradition that, when summoned for contemporary use, they run the risk of being immediately obsolescent. Each poet must dust off the old clichés and glaze them with new varnish. For Seamus Heaney, who is more attached to tradition than most, darkness and light dramatize his most pressing concerns. In his first book, Death of a Naturalist, as Dick Davis has pointed out, "Darkness is associated with an uncontrollable fecundity, a pullulation of alien, absorbing life." Darkness is persistently linked to Heaney's adolescent fears of sex and death, and light to their possible transcendence.
Many critics refuse to accept Heaney's second book, Door into the Dark, as an "advance on its predecessor," but surely it indicates a significant psychological advance. Rather than run from the dark, Heaney now faces up to it with grim determination, or actively seeks it out. He mines the metaphor of a "door into the...
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SOURCE: "Second Thoughts," in The New York Review of Books, Vol. XXXV, No. 7, April 28, 1988, pp. 41-2.
[In the following favorable review, Vendler explores the defining characteristics of the poems compiled in The Haw Lantern, asserting that the volume is an expression of the natural loss of middle-age.]
Here are thirty-two new poems by Seamus Heaney—the yield since Station Island (1985). Heaney is a poet of abundance who is undergoing in middle age the experience of natural loss. As the earth loses for him the mass and gravity of familiar presences—parents and friends taken by death—desiccation and weightlessness threaten the former fullness of the sensual life.
The moment of emptiness can be found in other poets. "Already I take up less emotional space / Than a snowdrop," James Merrill wrote at such a point in his own evolution. Lowell's grim engine, churning powerfully on through the late sonnets, did not quite admit the chill of such a moment until Day by Day:
We are things thrown in the air alive in flight…
our rust the color of the chameleon.
It is very difficult for poets of brick and mortar solidity, like Lowell, or of rooted heaviness, like Heaney, to become light, airy, desiccated. In their new style they cannot abandon their former selves. The struggle to be one's...
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SOURCE: An interview with Seamus Heaney, in Salmagundi, No. 80, Fall, 1988, pp. 4-21.
[In the following interview, Heaney discusses his poetry, especially the poems in The Haw Lantern, as well as American poets that have influenced his work.]
- With your recent birthday (your 49th), you are entering what MacNeice called "the middle stretch." Do you feel you are at a pivotal point in your work?
- Ever since I published a book, I have felt at a pivotal point. Publication is rather like pushing the boat out; then the boat/book turns into a melting ice floe and you have to conjure a second boat which again turns into a melting floe under your feet. All the stepping stones that you conjure disappear under the water behind you. So the condition of being on a moving stair that gets you only as far as you are is constant. But like everyone else, I have the sense of two special moments, in your 30s, and then some where later down the line—in your 40s or 50s; in fact, you have to start three times. First, you start to write and that's one initiation, the sine qua non of the other two, obviously.
Are you drawing here on the Wordsworthian format you mention in your TLS piece on Plath?
No. I hadn't even thought of that. I'm just...
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SOURCE: "Seamus Heaney's Anxiety of Trust in Field Work," in Chicago Review, Vol. XXXVI, No. 3, 1989, pp. 87-108.
[In the following essay, Hart determines the influence of Robert Lowell on the poems of Field Work, and praises Heaney's willingness to take risks in this volume.]
Most poetic careers advance like waves disturbed by a central event, each new pulse collapsing only after the tensions impelling it have been exhausted. Heaney's career is no exception. His image of the family's drinking water shaken by the train in "Glanmore Sonnets IV" (the "small ripples…vanished into where they seemed to start") brilliantly captures this contrapuntal progress. Following Blake's assertion that "Without Contraries is no progression," Heaney has made sure that his surges are always matched by equally powerful counter-surges. His early pastoralism in Death of a Naturalist, for example, relied on an opposing "anti-pastoralism" for credibility and contemporaneity. Without the recognition of rural hardship, his enchantment with agrarian ways would have seemed foolishly nostalgic. Similarly, his meditational via negativas in Door into the Dark, while aimed at recollecting sacred lights (the altar-like anvil wreathed with sparks in the forge, the grass flaming outside the Gallarus Oratory), gained intensity from the "dark night" they struggled to illuminate. In Wintering Out...
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SOURCE: "Heaney and the Pastoral Persuasion," in The Poetry of Resistance: Seamus Heaney and the Pastoral Persuasion, Ohio University Press, 1990, pp. 1-34.
[In the following excerpt, Burris places Heaney's poetry within the context of pastoral tradition.]
Abducted by Hades and spirited away to the underworld, Persephone ate several seeds from a pomegranate, the fruit traditionally associated with marriage and fertility cults. The price of her impudence was her freedom. Ingestion of the fruit sealed the marital alliance, and Demeter, Persephone's mother and one of the oldest, most powerful goddesses of the Greek pantheon, lost her daughter to an infernal son-in-law. With Zeus as her advocate, however, Demeter struck a deal with Hades, and Persephone was allowed to live with her mother for the better part of each year. During this time, the crops flourished. But when Persephone returned to the underworld to spend the remaining months with her husband, the earth became cold and barren. For the Greeks, the seasonal cycle—the pastoral calendar—sprang from a pomegranate seed.
The etymological history of the word "pomegranate" claims an essentially pastoral lineage, one that exemplifies what Puttenham, in The Arte of English Poesie (1589), described as the genre's tendency to employ "rude speeches to insinuate and glance at greater matters." Its Latin root "granatus" means, simply,...
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SOURCE: A review of Seeing Things, in The Yale Review, Vol. 80, Nos. 1-2, 1992, pp. 236-54.
[In the following essay, Pinsky provides a favorable review of Heaney's Seeing Things.]
Seamus Heaney's poems have earned a host of literary awards and about as much public celebration as is likely for any poet in our time. A native of Northern Ireland, a man of great personal charm, wit, eloquence in speech, and probity, Heaney has attracted (he attention of journalists in this country and around the world. His work has been embraced by academic critics, taught in schools and universities, and made the object of Ph.D. dissertations.
Nevertheless, he is a wonderful poet, one of the best writing, as his new book Seeing Things demonstrates anew. The book also provides a comparison of poetry's dual presence—immediate and yet of the past, of the earth and of the air, of the voice and of the mind—in the work of these three younger Americans and in poems by a European of Heaney's generation.
The two mighty roots of this volume are familiar to Heaney's readers. One is the talismanic force of objects: the often humble implements and artifacts, pitchfork, settlebed, coping-stone, biretta, school-bag, made sacramental by their human meaning and by Heaney's luminous see ing of them. "Secure / The bastion of sensation," says a poem early in the extraordinary sequence...
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SOURCE: "Seeing Things in a Jungian Perspective: Archetypal Elements in Seamus Heaney's Recent Poetry," in Agenda, Vol. 33, Nos. 3-4, Autumn-Winter, 1996, pp. 131-43.
[In the following essay, Atfield offers a Jungian interpretation of the poetry found in the volume Seeing Things.]
Seamus Heaney is clearly conversant with Jung's psychology and its relevance to art, specifically literature: in a conversation with Borges [in The Crane Bag, Volume 7, 1983], he referred to the "Jungian archetypes" as "valid explanations of what we experience in the subconscious worlds of dreams and fiction," and more recently in The Government of the Tongue, he used Jungian terminology quite naturally when he emphasised that poetry and the imaginative arts "verify our singularity, they strike and stake out the ore of self which lies at the base of every individuated life." He has spoken of "The secret between the words, the binding element … a psychic force that is elusive, archaic and only half apprehended by maker and audience"; [in Memories, Dreams, Reflections, 1963] Jung refers to "The energy underlying conscious psychic life" and the "archetypes, which are pre-existent to consciousness and condition it." Seamus Heaney uses the Jungian concept of mythical archetypes to explore himself, his family and his race; to understand the origins of his own creative energies and the distortion of...
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Buttel, Robert. Seamus Heaney. Lewisburg, PA: Bucknell University Press, 88 p.
Biographical and critical study of Heaney.
Corcoran, Neil. Seamus Heaney. London: Faber and Faber, 1986, 192 p.
Provides a biographical and critical overview. Corcoran includes a select bibliography.
Quinlan, Kieran. 'Tracing Seamus Heaney." World Literature Today 69, No. 1 (Winter 1995): 63-8.
Overviews the poet's life and verse, emphasizing the political nature of both.
Andrews, Elmer. "The Gift and the Craft: An Approach to the Poetry of Seamus Heaney." Twentieth Century Literature XXI, No. 4 (Winter 1985): 368-79.
Determines the influence of Patrick Kavanaugh and William Wordsworth on Heaney's work.
Balakian, Peter. "Seamus Heaney's New Landscapes." The Literary Review XXXI, No. 4 (Summer 1988): 501-5.
Praises Heaney's use of sensuous language and of Irish landscape and culture.
Beaver, Harold. "Seamus Heaney: Prospero or Ariel?" Parnassus XVI, No. 1 (1990): 104-13.
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