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North

4.08  ·  Rating details ·  1,869 ratings  ·  120 reviews
In North Seamus Heaney found a myth which allowed him to articulate a vision of Ireland - its people, history and landscape. Here the Irish experience is refracted through images drawn from different parts of the Northern European experience, and the idea of the north allows the poet to contemplate the violence on his home ground in relation to memories of the Scandinavian ...more
Paperback, 68 pages
Published 1985 by Faber Faber (first published 1975)
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Average rating 4.08  · 
Rating details
 ·  1,869 ratings  ·  120 reviews


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Steven Godin
Dec 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Seamus Heaney's North found a myth which allowed him to articulate his vision of Ireland. The experience is refracted through images drawn from different parts of the Northern European experience. North takes him from the simpler country poems to him Putting Northern Irish politics inside the framework with a darker world where he confronts the violence and ends up in exile just outside Dublin. The poet, becomes far more ambitious in scope with this collection, maybe the most diverse. There is a ...more
imts
Jan 02, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: 2017, cultural, poetry, uni
"Exhaustions nominated peace,
Memory incubating the spilled blood."


Not really my cup of tea, but then again, that's probably because I didn't exactly understand the poems. (In addition, it was a university read, and I generally dislike books or poetry I am forced to study instead of read for pleasure.)
...more
João Fernandes
Aug 07, 2015 rated it really liked it
Shelves: nobel, poetry
"This is the vowel of the earth
dreaming its root
in flowers and snow,

mutation of weathers
and seasons,
a windfall composing
the floor it rots into.

I grew out of all this
like a weeping willow
inclined to
the appetites of gravity."
- From 'Kinship, IV'.
...more
Paul E. Morph
Aug 13, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An excellent collection of poetry that explores how violence can echo through history. I found it a little abstruse at times but that might well have been because my broken thinker was being a little obtuse.

Hercules and Antaeus

Sky-born and royal,
snake-choker, dung-heaver,
his mind big with golden apples,
his future hung with trophies,

Hercules has the measure
of resistance and black powers
feeding off the territory.
Antaeus, the mould-hugger,

is weaned at last:
a fall was a renewal
but now he is raised u
...more
Tom
While I have dipped into Seamus Heaney's work (in Seeing Things), this is the first time I've read a book of his poems. North's collection is in two parts - the first, a broad view of history and contemplation of the Irish bogs, and the various northern invaders (i.e. Vikings) that came to them seeking to do violence. The second part focuses on the sectarian violence in Northern Ireland, and the aftermath of having loved ones killed in the conflict, as well as living in fear from further attacks ...more
Dave Schaafsma
Sep 10, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: poetry
Published in 1975 by the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995, "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." I had read Death of the Naturalist, which is amazing, and then at some point read the Selected works… but not until recently did I read this, which I found at a used book sale. This book is also great, both lyrical and contemplative and also violent, focusing as it does on the Troubles, the violence in Northern Ireland, whic ...more
Karen Ravn
Jan 16, 2015 rated it really liked it
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
Courtney
Oct 19, 2017 rated it liked it
Seamus Heaney is an award-winning poet born in Northern Ireland. He was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995 and received numerous other accolades throughout his career. He was raised as a Catholic on a farm and was the oldest of nine children.
North is a collection of poetry that is divided into two parts. The title is a reference to his home in the north of Ireland, his inspiration for this work.
Part 1 centers around the history of Northern Ireland, particularly the little-known hi
...more
Kent
Nov 24, 2008 rated it it was amazing
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. ...more
James
May 12, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: verse
Who, blowing up these sparks
For their meagre heat, have missed
The once-in-a-lifetime portent.
The comet's pulsing rose.
...more
Ian
Oct 17, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: britlit, poetry
North. Cold, remote, primitive. For West Europeans and their descendants, something about that word evokes a sense of wild(er)ness – the mysterious, inhospitable landscapes from which our ancestors eventually emerged into the decadence of Greco-Roman civilization. For Britons, “North” bears the added association of the nor(th/se)men, the Danish raiders who terrorized their cozy island coasts. For the Irish, the word has yet another layer, suggesting the six Ulster counties that chose to remain w ...more
Tom Ruffles
Jan 09, 2013 rated it it was ok
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
David S.
Dec 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I believe I have found one of my all time favourite poets. Mythology intertwined with Irish heritage, folklore and desperation.

The reader can taste the salty ocean spray, and five minutes later read the same passage and find a Greek reference that was there the whole time.

A true master.

Highly recommended
Rima
Jan 24, 2017 rated it liked it
Seamus Heaney is one of those authors I've always heard of but never read.
~
Reading his 1975 poetry anthology, North, was both difficult and insightful for me. It displayed how patterns of violence in Ireland has repeated itself throughout time.
~
Have you read any Heaney? Do you read poems for pleasure?
...more
Sarah
Oct 28, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Normally I’d give family five stars anyway, but this is truly a masterpiece of near-modern Irish politics using the far Britannic past as a surprisingly good metaphor. Give it a chance - if you can find a copy!
Merry
Aug 08, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020-read
Maybe a 4.5? Not sure how the two Greek Mythology poems fit the collection, but it was nevertheless solid.
I particularly love the poems about the bog bodies and the more political ones about the Troubles.

(Longer review to follow)
Mike Wenzel
Jun 16, 2020 rated it liked it
A good read.
Lisanne
Jul 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
I tried to read this slow and enjoy every part of it for as long as I could but I guess I failed. Oh well, one can always read it again...
Hannah Snipe
Oct 16, 2018 rated it it was ok
I think I may need to return to this in a few weeks. Not too sure I understood fully what was trying to be said.
Laurel Hicks
Apr 17, 2020 rated it it was amazing
The poet in time of war.
Madeline
Uh, Seamus Heaney, as you might have heard somewhere, is a very good poet, and I have always had special love for his bog poems, of which there are many here.

But, gosh, "Ireland is a woman" is a very boring thing to read about.
...more
mesal
Aug 22, 2020 rated it it was ok
Shelves: bad, literature, poetry
if i am ever forced to read a seamus heaney poem again i will riot and also i will not read it. and i will burn the poem
Kerry & naomi
Jun 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1996, thirty years after publishing his first collection of poetry, but I probably would not have ever read his work if not for my Poetry of Irish Nationalism class. I would have been the lesser for it.

Heaney grew up Catholic in Northern Ireland in a small village. His intellectual talents landed him with a scholarship to a boarding school and he then went on to college in Belfast. Heaney published his first poetry collection, Death of a Natura
...more
Julie Spencer
May 11, 2016 rated it really liked it
Seamus Heaney’s North was an opportunity to share a little myth entwined with his vision of Ireland and the History he knew of, also the landscape he had seen.
I often find myself thinking of Scotland, Sweden and Viking invasions when I read his poetry.
This wasn’t a book that I plucked out off the shelf in the library or bookstore and thought I have to have it. I only read it because it was part of the exam requirement whilst studying a degree in Literature Studies. I often do wonder, who reads
...more
T.J.
Apr 06, 2015 rated it liked it
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
E.
Sep 02, 2013 rated it liked it
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
Mar 05, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: poetry
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. Heaney possesses the type of literary brilliance that transcends and reinvents the world. As always, he is rooted in exploring his homeland of Ireland. By bearing witness to the past, he has linked atrocities of yesteryear with the troublesome persistence of bloodshed that has plagued the more recent ...more
Becca
May 24, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I wish I'd had this little volume in my pocket when I visited the oak-coffins and splayed burials of the bog men at the Copenhagen museum. I was fascinated by their textiles, by the matted twists of clay-red hair, cut off as a sacrifice to the bogs. I would have loved to read the first poems in this book over their leathery serene faces and treasured weapons. Heaney lovingly addresses the bog bodies.
Later, he speaks to more modern Irish problems with reticence and anxiety-- a deeply personal an
...more
Katie
Aug 18, 2012 rated it it was amazing


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
Peter
Sep 03, 2013 rated it really liked it
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
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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

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