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A powerful new collection by the bestselling translator of Beowulf.
In the finland of perch, the fenland of alder, on air
That is water, on carpets of Bann stream, on hold In the everything flows and steady go of the world. --from "Perch"
Seamus Heaney's new collection travels widely in time and space, visiting the sites of the classical world and revisiting the poet's childhood: rural electrification and the light of ancient evenings are reconciled within the orbit of a single lifetime. This is a book about origins (not least, the origins of words) and oracles: the places where things start from, the ground of understanding -- whether in Arcadia or Anahorish, the sanctuary at Epidaurus or the Bann valley in County Derry.
Electric Light ranges from short takes to conversation poems. The pre-Socratic wisdom that everything flows is held in tension with the elegizing of friends and fellow poets. These gifts of recollection renew the poet's calling to assign things their proper names; once again Heaney can be heard extending his word hoard and roll call in this, his eleventh collection.
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."read more
So my adding to the praise he receives matters little in the face of him already winning the Nobel'n all, but holy crap he's so good. He's the best ender I've ever read. Period.read more
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Fluent, enjoyable and often masterful, this 11th book of verse from the Irish Nobel Laureate splits neatly in two. The first, larger and more varied half of the volume gathers translations and adaptations, occasional and celebratory poems, and verse about travel in Ireland's gaeltacht (Irish-speaking rural areas), as well as in the Balkans and Greece. Hints of the Anglo-Saxon Beowulf (which Heaney recently translated) play second fiddle here to the eclogues of Virgil and to celebrations of childbirth, which Heaney has made one of his specialties. Some of the strongest poems recall Heaney's own childhood in the 1950s. Part two of the book consists entirely of elegies: some commemorate poets (Ted Hughes, Joseph Brodsky, Zbigniew Herbert) and comment on those poets' works, while others remember relatives and friends Heaney's dying father, for example, or (in the title poem) a whispering grandmother, "with her fur-lined felt zippers unzipped." In both sections Heaney sticks largely to the evocative pentameters of his 1990s books, with rhythms suited to represent "the everything flows and steady go of the world" a stream of joyful memories, alloyed but not overwhelmed by grief. Heaney's new volume is far from being his strongest, or strangest, or most demanding book: it's well crafted, but feels like a fortuitous culling rather than a fully realized project. (Apr.) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved