I know we aren’t reading Heaney, but…

September 5, 2010

Here is a link to an intriguing review of Seamus Heaney’s most recent collection of poetry, Human Chain. The reviewer, Nick Laird, writes:

Human Chain is stranger – and much greater – than a cursory glance would suggest. Though here, as expected, are exquisitely turned poems about rural events and childhood incidents, the collection also revisits (and sometimes redirects) earlier work, and there is a chilly, other-worldly aura hanging over the whole enterprise.”

Along with some dreamy, vaguely hero-worshipful criticism (the kind Gioia might vomit over), there are some pretty intense spoilers in the review: there are excerpts from four or five different poems, intriguing enough to pique my interest, but short enough to irritate. I suppose copywright laws prevent full texts of the poems from being posted in The Telegraph, but extracting what are ostensibly the best bits and telling readers about how great they are seems tantamount to saying, “Oh, you want to read this book? Well, _____ dies.”

Anyway, Laird’s point seems to be that if you are allergic to “passages of enormous lyric power,” you probably shouldn’t read any Heaney, especially not Human Chain. The book comes out in the U.S. on September 14th, and, like a big nerd, I have already pre-ordered it.

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