Seamus Heaney

Pamela Law


In one sense Seamus Heaney needs no commentators: he is the most accessible of poets, giving pleasure by his rich sensuousness, his candour, the subtle rhythms of his celebratory voice. But if we settle for that we have left out a complexity which can give us other kinds of pleasure: the perception of his treatment of politics, ofhuman beings in history; the appreciation of his awareness of the problems of being Irish, provincial, of coming close after Yeats, of trying to continue the Romantic enterprise of illuminating the ordinary in an ironic and unbelieving age. We might miss, too, the cost involved (perceived and paid) in celebrating at all when the society, the times, the attitudes of those for whom one writes are largely pragmatic, indifferent, materialistic and reductive.

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