Selected Poems, 1966-1987
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Selected Poems, 1966-1987

4.17 of 5 stars 4.17  ·  rating details  ·  1,406 ratings  ·  33 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the complete and revised version of his long poem, "Station Island," as well as a number of prose poems previously unpublished in the U.S.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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"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

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.

Ryan Werner
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...more
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
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...more
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
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
Ken French
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).
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
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
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
Dec 12, 2009 Pat rated it 5 of 5 stars
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
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.
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
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.
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".
A "Greatest Hits" volume of the Nobel laureate's poems. An excellent companion is his interview in Poetry Dec 2008 where he notes how a poet is born, nurtured, influenced, developed, made his own mature writer.
Sherry Chandler
I have been writing a lot of narrative poems/dramatic monologues and so I have found it a respite to have Heaney's lyric voice in my head. Still, I need to come back to these poems when I have more time to devote.
This book is a great read!
I absolutely love Seamus Heaney's poetry. He writes with wonderful clarity,infusing the most common events with meaning and new life. What a marvelous poet!
This anthology of Seamus Heaney's poems from 1966-1987 went a long way towards making him my favorite living poet. Simply fantastic. Go forth and read it!
Roxana Dreptu
I'm not much of a poetry reader, but this was quite an experience. My favourites were Station Island and Clearances.
Irish poet. Beautiful poetry that resonates of trees, fields, streams, and the Irish rural countryside.
A fantastic Irish poet! Nothing really fluffy, very down-to-earth and concrete.
Only dipped into this. I like his work best when it is audio read by him.
Hannah Mccarney
Initially read for study - enjoyed enough to read over and over :)
trying out this ol poetry number. not sure but sure?
Tara Lynn Tanner
I love Seamus Heaney. This is a great collection...
The best way to be introduced to poetry
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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 Death of a Naturalist North District and Circle Antigone

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