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Selected Poems, 1966-1987

4.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,882 Ratings  ·  49 Reviews
Seamus Heaney was the winner of the 1996 Nobel Prize, and this collection reveals the range, sureness, and quality of his achievements. Includes the complete and revised version of his long poem, "Station Island," as well as a number of prose poems previously unpublished in the U.S.
Paperback, 273 pages
Published December 1st 1991 by Noonday Press (first published 1990)
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Sep 02, 2013 Melanie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

In memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984
By Seamus Heaney

She taught me what her uncle once taught her:
How easily the biggest coal block split
If you got the grain and hammer angled right.

The sound of that relaxed alluring blow,
Its co-opted and obliterated echo,
Taught me to hit, taught me to loosen,

Taught me between the hammer and the block
To face the music. Teach me now to listen,
To strike it rich behind the linear black.

Grace Sweeney
Apr 14, 2015 Grace Sweeney rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towa
Jul 19, 2008 Brendan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
"In the nineteen forties, when I was the eldest child of an ever-growing family in rural Co. Derry, we crowded together in the three rooms of a traditional thatched farmstead and lived a kind of den-life which was more or less emotionally and intellectually proofed against the outside world. It was an intimate, physical, creaturely existence in which the night sounds of the horse in the stable beyond one bedroom wall mingled with the sounds of adult conversation from the kitchen beyond the other ...more
Apr 24, 2016 JT rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
if i only understood certain words of Seamus Heaney, the prominent Irish bar I'd offer him more stars.. his style of verse is quite original. he tackles subjects from an ethnic, sociological, & spiritual level. there is an emphasis on the daily life in Ireland, especially in places like Derry, Donegal, Dublin, & Mourn. he is a heavyweight writer. death is a reoccurring theme as is hobbies such a lough fishing. his vocabulary resembles the russian novelist nabokov. it is rich and lush and ...more
I didn't study much poetry in my English Lit classes, so I've been reading through some of the classics, both old and contemporary, over the years. I've been dipping in and out of this volume of Seamus Heaney's poems for a while now and I've finally, finally finished it!

Some of his work appealed to me, whereas others just felt very repetitive. I liked his strong recurrent themes such as his praise of the working class and his comments on social injustice, but I did feel like I didn't understand
1st book of poetry I read by Seamus Heaney. Other than the famous poems, it's an interesting book of poetry and I'd definitely read him again.
Ryan Werner
Oct 05, 2015 Ryan Werner rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
For a very select audience, this documentation of 21 years of Seamus Heaney's poetry career will be an enjoyable and cathartic journey through Ireland and its culture.

As a retrospective of what is now the first half of Seamus Heaney’s poetry career, New Selected Poems: 1966-1987 (Faber and Faber, ISBN: 0-571-14372-5, 1990) does well in showing a man who rallied for not just justice and understanding for the working class, but the imagination and beauty within it.

Stretching from 1966-1987, this v
Having only previously read two collections of poetry, and these being “Nation’s favourites…” books a la various artists, I came across this Nobel winners collection by way of a ‘Book Night’ distributed copy. I know so little about poetry and so delicately picked at this book over a number of weeks. Some poems are very famous and instantly absorbing (Mid-Term Break and Digging), but for poetry amateurs some will appear more complex, almost academic. Heaney stays close to his Irish roots with the ...more
Jul 29, 2008 Michael rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mid-term Break

I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close,
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my
May 31, 2010 Bruce rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This selection from the first twenty-one years of Seamus Heaney’s work includes the sonnet sequences, “Clearances” and, my favorites, “Glanmore Sonnets.” There are, of course, many more poems included here. Heaney is a poet deeply rooted in the story of his life, and he brings to life his childhood in Northern Ireland with vivid intensity. Indeed, never does he stray far from Ireland in his work, and we are the richer for it. Always it is the particularity of what he muses upon that strikes the ...more
Roger DeBlanck
Jan 27, 2012 Roger DeBlanck rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Seamus Heaney’s poetry has taken the history, culture, and landscape of his Irish homeland and transformed them into his own mythology. With the use of rare, oftentimes archaic, yet beautiful and mesmerizing language, his verse exalts the natural world and the lives of ordinary, hardworking Irish folk. The ethics of his poetry also focus on the political and religious divisions that have led to bloody violence, both past and present. Heaney’s poetry convinces readers that there is more to see an ...more
This collection spans the first 21 years of Heaney's 47-year-long career as a published poet, sampling poems from all eight books Heaney published between 1966 and 1987 (he went on to publish five more books before his death in August 2013). All the most famous Heaney poems can be found here, including such beloved lyrics as "Mid-Term Break" and "The Underground" (the latter is a real mindf*ck of a poem, an urgently concocted puree of allusions to Ovid's Metamorphoses and the Grimm brothers' fai ...more
John Eliot
Apr 16, 2015 John Eliot rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I borrowed this book from the library. A book to buy, though I have bought two collections in the meantime. I'm new to Heaney and I'm wondering where he's been all my life. I could have read him long ago, but maybe I wouldn't have appreciated him then. If you read poetry you'll have read him, I'm sure. If not make sure you do. For the rest make sure you don't miss out either. Wonderful, superb.
Ken French
Aug 19, 2014 Ken French rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
Not only is this a great collection, but I had my copy signed and inscribed by Heaney after a reading at Jersey City State College in the mid-90s. He was pleased that I was the only person who brought my own book (as opposed to buying one there) and commented that I had bought it "across the pond" (it was a UK edition that I had purchased at the Killarney Bookstore in 1994).
Jim Harville
Feb 27, 2016 Jim Harville rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Rereading a favorite poet--something I haven't done since I retired. And so many of these jewels I don't remember ever knowing before. Heaney's so earthy, so spiritual, and the outside world he conjures so perfectly mirrors the challenges and puzzles of our inner consciousness. I've loved these last several weeks: his insights are wise and humane; his perfect wordplay is almost, well, Joycean.
Ancestral Gael
I have to admit my disappointment with this book. I like poetry, I really do. Like art, I don't know much about it, but I know what I like. I found most of the poems unappealing apart from the "Sweeney" material and three others: "North", "Song" and "Sloe Gin". Now, given the length of the book (240 pages) and the body of work it contains I find it surprising that I could not connect more to what I was reading; rather I was left feeling inadequate and confused. Why couldn't I understand what Mr ...more
Oct 16, 2015 Brian rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
There is no denying Heaney's brilliance. These early poems reveal his Irish heritage with rich, stark images: you can smell the bogs, hear the water running alongside the "broagh" (a wonderful poem that reminds us gently of the Gaelic-English linguistic divide), and feel his schoolboy melancholy as well as share his adolescent awakenings.
Andrew Kramcsak
I notice there is nothing in between not like and like it on the rating apparatus. This is a problem with ol' Seamus for while I didn't hate the poems (and I've been known to cry with white hot hatred over poetry I quibble with) I honestly cannot remember a single one. I know Ireland was mentioned, it was (at best) partly cloudy skies throughout the book and lots of manual labor was going on, but a Nobel Prize? Really? This seems to be the case of the working class poet who keeps his nose to the ...more
Nov 26, 2015 Alina rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Beautifully reflects from a modern perspective the Irish spirit,the traditional rural life and its valuable cultural heritage.
Aug 16, 2013 Siria rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 20th-century, poetry
Several of these poems are now very familiar to Irish schoolchildren—"Digging", for example, and the moving "Mid Term Break." Some of these poems—to with Irish history, landscape, the good and bad aspects of living in a close-knit rural community—I found really wonderful and spoke to my own experiences growing up. Heaney has a real gift for striking imagery, and his language begs to be read aloud. Other poems were more opaque to me, and even after working at them I'm not sure that I really under ...more
Frank Palardy
Feb 24, 2016 Frank Palardy rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: short-scripts
Some of his best poems. I think they were published elsewhere, but this happens to be the book that I read.
Feb 06, 2015 Kathryn rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Really the best way to read Seamus Heaney's poems is in book form, not in these selected anthologies. You miss so much in a book like this, rather like if you are given a box of chocolates and you eat all the truffles, and then don't go back for the caramels and nougats because you know the truffles are your favorite. Better to get the full mix from the first.
Eric Hinkle
I'm surprised I didn't love this guy. I enjoyed the poems from Sweeney Astray and The Haw Lantern, but most of the others didn't connect with me too much. What am I missing?
Dec 12, 2009 Pat rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
I gave it away to a B&B in Vashion, Washington so they'd have some poetry on hand. I still have the 1966-1996 Selected Poems, titled _Opened Ground_, which also has his Nobel Prize acceptance. I don't know if any poems from the 1987 were left out in the 1996, but the newer volume does have smaller print. Just in case you were wondering =)
Kirsten McKeown
Aug 30, 2013 Kirsten McKeown rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
If you are not familiar with his work, I humbly suggest that you celebrate the life of this great writer with this collection. Even if you don't think of yourself as a poetry reader, give it a peek. It has informed my reading of all poems--and so I can't conceive of never having had the great fortune to have had it placed in my hands.
Painstakingly messy.

No stars only because I didn't finish it on this first reading.
Jul 27, 2010 Kristin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
This selection of Heaney's work, chosen by the author himself, was absolutely wonderful. It was interesting to see an author picking his own best work, and I felt closer to the book as a result. Each poem is pristine, and the collection, particularly the earlier poems, made me want to read his first few books very badly.
Júlia Martí
Oct 16, 2013 Júlia Martí rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons

To end up in a draughty lamplit station
After the trains have gone, the wet track
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
For your step following and DAMNED if I look back.
I haven't read everything in here but I've read quite a lot. They're not bad, they're just not for me. I'm not a huge fan of poetry anyway and Heaney's poems are just all too similar, almost feels like I'm reading the same thing dozens of times.
Jun 05, 2008 Nikki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
The most moving of all of these, I think, is "Mid Term Break". Seamus Heaney has a simple, direct way of writing in this poem that lends it a lot of clarity and makes you aware of every word. I'm also fond of "Digging" and "Follower".
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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...

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