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Human Chain: Poems by Seamus Heaney (Excerpt)

Human Chain: Poems by Seamus Heaney (Excerpt)

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WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

Seamus Heaney’s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present—the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, of lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems that stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other “hermit songs” that weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet’s early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled “Route 101” plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s childhood to the birth of a first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead—friends, neighbors, family—that is yet wholly and movingly vernacular.

Human Chain also includes a poetic “herbal” adapted from the Breton poet Guillevic—lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things and landscapes that exclude human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.

http://www.fsgpoetry.com/

Excerpted from HUMAN CHAIN: Poems by Seamus Heaney. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Seamus Heaney. All rights reserved.
WINNER OF THE NOBEL PRIZE IN LITERATURE

Seamus Heaney’s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present—the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, of lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems that stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other “hermit songs” that weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet’s early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled “Route 101” plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s childhood to the birth of a first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead—friends, neighbors, family—that is yet wholly and movingly vernacular.

Human Chain also includes a poetic “herbal” adapted from the Breton poet Guillevic—lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things and landscapes that exclude human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included.

http://www.fsgpoetry.com/

Excerpted from HUMAN CHAIN: Poems by Seamus Heaney. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Seamus Heaney. All rights reserved.

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Publish date: Sep 14, 2010
Added to Scribd: Mar 31, 2011
Copyright:Traditional Copyright: All rights reserved

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11/04/2014

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“HAD I NOT BEEN AWAKE”
Had I not been awake I would have missed it,A wind that rose and whirled until the roof Pattered with quick leaves off the sycamoreAnd got me up, the whole of me a-patter,Alive and ticking like an electric fence:Had I not been awake I would have missed it,It came and went so unexpectedly And almost it seemed dangerously,Returning like an animal to the house,A courier blast that there and thenLapsed ordinary. But not everAfter. And not now.
 
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HUMAN CHAIN
FOR TERENCE BROWN
Seeing the bags of meal passed hand to handIn close-up by the aid workers, and soldiersFiring over the mob, I was braced againWith a grip on two sack corners,Two packed wads of grain I’d worked to lugsTo give me purchase, ready for the heave—The eye-to-eye, one-two, one-two upswingOn to the trailer, then the stoop and drag and drainOf the next lift. Nothing surpassedThat quick unburdening, backbreak’s truest payback,A letting go which will not come again.Or it will, once. And for all.

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Helen Winslow Black added this note
Seamus Heaney, my fave rave! I know it's not Monday (Old Mother's Poetry Day) but please read "In the Attic" right now for your RDA of verse. Hey Farrar, Straus seems to have slyly installed an automatic triple readcast, but I un-clicked it (despite the fact I worship at the altar of Seamus Heaney & even mentioned him in "Physics from Scratch") cuz I hate other people telling me what to do! :)
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