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North

4.09 of 5 stars 4.09  ·  rating details  ·  874 ratings  ·  31 reviews
With this collection, first published in 1975, Heaney located a myth which allowed him to articulate a vision of Ireland--its people, history, and landscape--and which gave his poems direction, cohesion, and cumulative power. In North, the Irish experience is refracted through images drawn from different parts of the Northern European experience, and the idea of the north ...more
Paperback, 68 pages
Published October 8th 2001 by Faber & Faber (first published 1975)
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Best Collection of Poems by Living Authors
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,484)
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Karen Ravn
whew, this was a very interesting read! Heaney is very vague and silent in his poetry, but at the same time I feel like he's yelling at me. It's interesting how many different way you can read these poems, though they all relates to the Irish revolutionary period and the Irish civil war, which is not always that easy to see, and I like that. Vague poetry is the best, because it means that you can interpret it your own way, without feeling forced into a certain way of thinking.
There was some of
...more
Tom Ruffles
Published in 1975, this is an impressionistic portrait of an Ireland as remote from us today as if Heaney were talking about the time of St Patrick. His depiction of a land “shackled in rosary beads” tells of long ago, when the clergy held sway, before the rise and fall of the Celtic tiger, with its fantasy economics, easy credit, and the covering of that damp land in houses, many of which remain unfinished.

The dour poems in the first part show us rural Ireland and the winteriness of its “unrele
...more
T.J.
Apr 07, 2015 T.J. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
More immediately accessible than say Station Island, North is a collection divided into two parts. The first section is arguably the more famous as it features Heaney’s so-called Bog People poems, inspired by the archeological findings of Iron Age bodies preserved in the peat mires of Denmark.

Written nearly 25 years before Heaney’s famous translation of Beowulf, North features plenty of Anglo-Saxon vocabulary, imagery, and sound. He writes about a time “past philology and kennings,” and in “Bon
...more
Steven Quayle
The Bog Queen

I lay waiting
between turf-face and demesne wall,
between heathery levels
and glass-toothed stone.

My body was braille
for the creeping influences:
dawn suns groped over my head
and cooled at my feet,

through my fabrics and skins
the seeps of winter
digested me,
the illiterate roots

pondered and died
in the cavings
of stomach and socket.
I lay waiting

on the gravel bottom,
my brain darkening.
a jar of spawn
fermenting underground

dreams of Baltic amber.
Bruised berries under my nails,
the vital hoard red
...more
Kent
My favorite part of this book is the relationship between first part and second part. the imagistic portrayal of the country versus the personal narrative poems. I draw a thesis in the space between these two. If Ireland has had so many different masters, or tormenters, then how is one to settle on any identity. That conflicted sense of identity, which I read with such pleasure in Derek Walcott's poems, is definitely evident here.
Isobel
I feel this collection would benefit from me knowing more about Ireland pre the mid-1800s. However, I did find much of it engaging and moving even without that contextual knowledge. A few of the poems were complete misses for me - he seems to have a large fascination with death and the result is many poems that I felt were actually fairly similar in style, structure and content. This meant that reading through became slightly dull at some sections, and I feel that poetry is so short that every s ...more
Scott
Wandering through Full Circle Bookstore on Saturday morning, I came across their selection of Seamus Heaney books, pulled from the shelves after the news of his death the day before. It seemed only fitting to purchase one.

I've read, and own a copy of, Death of a Naturalist, so I decided to select one of his political works this time (plus I have his magnificent Beowulf). The blurb of this book was most intriguing:

In North Seamus Heaney found a myth which allowed him to articulate a vision of Ir
...more
Roger DeBlanck
Heaney's fourth collection, North, is one of my favorite volumes of his work. Indeed, as with every poem in each of his collections, the pieces in North employ the most superb and amazing language, the type of literary brilliance that transcends and reinvents the world. In Heaney's case, as always, he is rooted in exploring his homeland of Ireland. Again, by bearing witness to the past, he has linked atrocities of yesteryear with the troublesome persistence of bloodshed that has plagued the more ...more
Dan
Mar 26, 2009 Dan rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
North is a portrait of Ireland and can be read as depicting either a very primitive time (as suggested by the bardic qualities) or as being set in the strange landscapes one finds in the work of Samuel Beckett. The language is rough, earth-bound, concrete, monosyllabic and rural, and references to bogs, fens and swamps may remind some of William Shakespeare’s Caliban (Shakespeare’s The Tempest). Some of the poems make reference to the political conflicts in Ireland and their effect on Heaney as ...more
Peter
Stark, gripping, eloquent, touching. Heaney first refracts the saga of Ireland's violence and struggle for freedom through images of neolithic excavations, then turns overtly political in the second section. But the historical and political fades away to the personal with the lovely, concluding "Exposure" in which Heaney questions the role and relevance of the poet in society, as well as whether being a poet does himself any good. He describes missing the sight of a comet while sequestered in hi ...more
Katie


North is a very excellent collection of poems about Ireland by Heaney. His view of the country are anything but one-dimensional. Heaney's images of Ireland include the unnervingly modern violent holy battles, the incredible womb of its natural territories as well as its mystical roots in Celtic magic.


There are also many undertones of both Greek and Norse Mythology. Heaney even manages to achieve somewhat of a discernible narrative for his readers.


This book is a must read for anyone who enjoyed E
...more
Carol
I just love his poetry. I try to hear as many audios as I can. He is greatly missed. We were blessed with his presence and his work.
Grace
I did not like North as much as I liked Death of a Naturalist. I think the main concerns shifted, obviously, as they do. North is more political and deals more with the troubles. I think it's really interesting that Heaney always considered himself Irish, not British, and not even Northern Irish. I think that's pretty clearly reflected in his writing. I also especially liked the poems he wrote for his wife.
Melissa Massello
May 25, 2007 Melissa Massello rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: everyone
Seamus Heaney, apart from being my favorite contemporary poet, turns the notion of poetry on its head by finding the beauty in even the most grotesque. By reading North, one gets a true feeling of the interconnectedness not only of all things, but of all generations of life throughout history--that the dead never truly leave waking life. I re-read this book all the time.
Johanna Haas
This is a wow book. Heaney explores his native Ireland through the idea of North - from Viking invaders to the conflicts of Northern Ireland. A consummate craftsman, I cannot imagine how long it took him to find all the right words.
Jennifer
Heaney's voyeurism is sometimes a bit much for me to enjoy, but I do think this collection is consistently good, and lines like "beautiful prismatic counselling" (from Exposure) really show off his poetic flair.
Alex
I enjoyed it quite a bit. Especially impressive: Funeral Rites, Strange Fruit, and Act of Union. Also enjoyed: Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication, North, Bone Dreams, and Whatever You Say Say Nothing.
Sarah Elizabeth
Strange and twisted, Heaney's images are often grotesque and yet deceivingly simple. I can't come up with what I think of it yet. I'll have to spend more time with his book. . .
S.
Aug 07, 2008 S. rated it 3 of 5 stars
Shelves: poetry
I heard Heaney read some of these poems once. They're better aloud. Of course the poems are good on paper, too, but if the book could read aloud it would get 4 or 5 stars.
h
Dec 27, 2008 h rated it 4 of 5 stars
Shelves: 2008, poetry, uk
a tiny masterpiece of heaney's - including many of his bog people poems (swoon) and some gorgeous political poems. his adept use of language and culture are on full display.
Steve
There are some poems I really liked, but overall it's kind of like reading chunky peanut butter. I love peanut butter -- but not chunky peanut butter.
Erin
Fabulous collection. Uses mythology, history, and old English linguistic patterns in fascinating ways to explore Irish culture.
Samantha
Nov 12, 2007 Samantha rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: poets and poetry readers
Shelves: poetry
Seamus Heaney is brilliant. Concise, descriptive, deep, provocative. Makes mysterious old historical imagery come alive.
Stan
Some nice work, but not uniformly. Excellent pacing and phrasing, but poem subjects not always of interest.
Richard Downey
Heaney is the best. This is my favorite collection of his work. The Bog Poems are especially moving.
Adam
Brutal and beautiful. Sensuous and and painful. Poignant. Essential poetry reading.
Jamie
He has a sexy accent. Also his poems about bog people are pretty cool.
Judith  Angeles
I loved this small and delicate collection!
Melissa Martin
Northern Ireland, how I love you.
Tait
Emotionless and academic
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Seamus Justin Heaney was an Irish poet, writer and lecturer from County Derry, Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."

Heaney on Wikipedia.
More about Seamus Heaney...
Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 Selected Poems, 1966-1987 Death of a Naturalist District and Circle The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles' Antigone

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“Is there life before death? That’s chalked up

In Ballymurphy. Competence with pain,

Coherent miseries, a bite and a sup,

We hug our little destiny again.”
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