Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture

Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture

by Seamus Heaney
     
 

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Seamus Heaney's Nobel Lecture, captured here in Crediting Poetry, is a powerful defense of poetry as "the ship and the anchor" of our spirit within an ocean of violent, divisive politics and "world-sorrow." Beginning with the "creaturely existence" of his childhood in a thatched farmstead in rural County Derry, Heaney traces his path in "the wideness of

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Overview

Seamus Heaney's Nobel Lecture, captured here in Crediting Poetry, is a powerful defense of poetry as "the ship and the anchor" of our spirit within an ocean of violent, divisive politics and "world-sorrow." Beginning with the "creaturely existence" of his childhood in a thatched farmstead in rural County Derry, Heaney traces his path in "the wideness of language." It is a way forged by listening: to the "burbles and squeaks" of BBC and Radio Eireann from a wireless speaker, to the triple-rhyme in a line of Yeats', but also to the sound of gunfire in Ulster and the keening desolation of all the "wounded spots on the face of the earth." Out of all these sounds Heaney discovers the necessity of poetic order--"an order where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew."
It is poetry's ability to convey the forces of the marvelous and the murderous together, Heaney writes, that gives it "at once a buoyancy and a holding," and persuades us of its "truth to life." Heaney's lecture not only finds a way of crediting poetry "without anxiety or apology," but it persuades us, eloquently and gracefully, of the "rightness" and "thereness" of our veritable human being.

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Editorial Reviews

Library Journal
In his 1995 Nobel lecture, Heaney speaks earnestly about the role of poetry in everyday lifeit must be "not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a retuning of the world itself"an instrument of shock by which the perception of reality is set right, or at least set anew. Certainly Heaney's own poetry aspires to this goal, assisted by the cobblestone physicality of Irish speech ("And the train tore past with the stoker yelling/ Like a balked king from his iron chariot") and the tragic, almost surreal political climate of Northern Ireland. His latest collection draws on the past-personal, historical, mythicto articulate an innocence recollected in bitter knowledge, prefigurings of a present discerned only in hindsight. Vivid sounds and smells of childhood compete with acrid reminders of yesterday's truck bombing ("Two Lorries") or drive-by assassination ("Keeping Going"). Nothingnot even memoryHeaney implies, is truly safe, and there is "No such thing/ as innocent/ bystanding"; nevertheless, he strives to create the balance that poetry makes possible, defined in his Nobel lecture as touching "the base of our sympathetic nature while taking in at the same time the unsympathetic reality of the world to which that nature is constantly exposed." The reader's challenge is not to be carried helplessly forward by random events but to take sides, to risk the exposureof conscience, of valuesthat Heaney risks as poet and to bear the best of what's discovered there into a refigured world. Both books are recommended for most poetry collections.Fred Muratori, Cornell Univ. Lib., Ithaca, N.Y.

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781466855663
Publisher:
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date:
01/13/2014
Sold by:
Macmillan
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
53
File size:
106 KB

Meet 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."


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."

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