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Seamus Heaney
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The Monday Poem > Our Autumn Poet: Seamus Heaney

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message 1: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments In honor of Seamus Heaney who recently passed away, this poetry-readalong is a chance for everyone who wants to join to pick a collection of his poems and share and discuss them here.

Which book did you pick?


message 2: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
I'm not sure. I was thinking I'll go with Death of a Naturalist because most of the poems in there are familiar to me and then pick something new for my 2014 challenge.


message 3: by Alannah (last edited Sep 02, 2013 03:31AM) (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
I'm going to check my local bookstore or the library sometime this week as they always stocked a lot of Heaney.


message 4: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Alannah, I will do the same, though the challenge might be finding Heaney in original language in my library.


message 5: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
Just found Death of a Naturalist for £5.39 on kindle, that's the cheapest I have seen it.


message 6: by Jenny (last edited Sep 02, 2013 04:55AM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I think for me it will either be North or The Spirit Level as those are the ones available in original language at my library.


message 7: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I'll be joining in, but haven't decided which book yet.


message 8: by Katy (new)

Katy | 422 comments I'll be joining too. Like Gill, I'm undecided.


message 9: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Great, I am looking forward to it!


message 10: by [deleted user] (new)

I will check out my library but I'm undecided at the moment. I might see if there is a book that has more members reading it and pick that!


message 11: by Leslie (last edited Sep 02, 2013 05:17AM) (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Alannah wrote: "I'm going to check my local bookstore or the library sometime this week as they always stocked a lot of Heaney."

You would think that would be true around here too with Harvard not so far away but sadly no.

I might just read some of his poems online.


message 12: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Leslie wrote: "Alannah wrote: "I'm going to check my local bookstore or the library sometime this week as they always stocked a lot of Heaney."

You would think that would be true around here too with Harvard not..."


Nothing at all?


message 13: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I've just remembered! that I already have Human Chain on my kindle, so will probably go with that.


message 14: by [deleted user] (new)

Having browsed his collections, I want to read Death of a Naturalist but my library doesn't have it. Trying to decide if I should get it on kindle or not.


message 15: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Jenny wrote: "Leslie wrote: "Alannah wrote: "I'm going to check my local bookstore or the library sometime this week as they always stocked a lot of Heaney."

You would think that would be true around here too w..."

Nothing at all?"


Oh, I am sure that the bookstores in Harvard Square have some but out here in the suburbs there isn't much poetry of any kind for sale. I could get something from the library but for now I will stick to the poems online.


message 16: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
Do you have any links Leslie?


message 17: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Alannah wrote: "Do you have any links Leslie?"

I'm just using the links I posted in the Poetry Chat thread (message #2)


message 18: by Shirley (new)

Shirley | 4177 comments I'm just going to read through "New Selected Poems 1966-1987" which I mentioned in the Poetry Chat thread - it has a selection from Death of a Naturalist and others so quite a good selection.


message 19: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
Leslie wrote: "Alannah wrote: "Do you have any links Leslie?"

I'm just using the links I posted in the Poetry Chat thread (message #2)"


Thanks.


message 20: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I got The Spirit Level from my library yesterday and have placed it next to my bed in order to read one or two poems every night before I fall asleep.


message 21: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Shirley wrote: "I'm just going to read through "New Selected Poems 1966-1987" which I mentioned in the Poetry Chat thread - it has a selection from Death of a Naturalist and others so quite a good selection."

I just read the poem Death of a Naturalist - hilarious!


message 22: by Jenny (last edited Sep 04, 2013 11:19PM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I have already placed this link in Poetry Chat but just in case, here it comes again: Just found a wonderful audio podcast of a reading that Seamus Heaney did on Poetry Day 2012. Lovely to hear him talk about/read his poetry in his heavy Northern Irish accent.

edit: this podcast seems to have been taken off the website in the meantime, however there is another one from 2010 here


message 23: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Leslie wrote: "Shirley wrote: "I'm just going to read through "New Selected Poems 1966-1987" which I mentioned in the Poetry Chat thread - it has a selection from Death of a Naturalist and others so quite a good ..."

I'll see if I can find it online.


message 24: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments (btw: sometimes I confuse your posts with mine, because we're both so ....red. So I just had a moment of braincollapse looking at your previous post, thinking: 'when did I do that?')


message 25: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (lanybum) Hi Guys,

All my Seamus Heaney stuff is back home in Ireland but I've managed to pick up another copy of Death of a Naturalist so I'll be reading that this time around.

Hoping to start reading mid month.

Elaine


message 26: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
I feel like I should point out that my accent is nowhere near that strong, haha! That accent is typical of County Londonderry/Derry.

It is a great recording though.


message 27: by Leslie (new)

Leslie | 15985 comments Jenny wrote: "(btw: sometimes I confuse your posts with mine, because we're both so ....red. So I just had a moment of braincollapse looking at your previous post, thinking: 'when did I do that?')"

Hahaha - that happens to me too!


message 28: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Alannah wrote: "I feel like I should point out that my accent is nowhere near that strong, haha! That accent is typical of County Londonderry/Derry.

It is a great recording though."


I really shouldn't be caught saying this but: I prefer it to the Fermanagh accent where I spend most of my time in Northern Ireland. (and now let's just pray my friend Sally never visits this thread ;)


message 29: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
I had a lot of people wondering why my accent wasn't like Nadine Coyle's when I went to university.


message 30: by Sally (new)

Sally Rees | 27 comments Jenny wrote: "Alannah wrote: "I feel like I should point out that my accent is nowhere near that strong, haha! That accent is typical of County Londonderry/Derry.

It is a great recording though."

I really shou..."

CAUGHT!!! Lol. Did you get a chance to read any in the collection I 'borrowed' from school. I'm going to dip in there.


message 31: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Sally wrote: "Jenny wrote: "Alannah wrote: "I feel like I should point out that my accent is nowhere near that strong, haha! That accent is typical of County Londonderry/Derry.

It is a great recording though."
..."


Darn it, well, I should have known ;) I didn't really, but I got The Spirit Level from my library and am now slowly reading my way through it. What was that collection called again?


message 32: by Jenny (last edited Sep 07, 2013 02:11PM) (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Read a poem from "The Spirit Level" as second time today, as I kept thinking back on it all day today after having read it last night.

A Sofa in the Forties

All of us on the sofa in a line, kneeling
Behind each other, eldest down to youngest,
Elbows going like pistons, for this was a train

And between the jamb-wall and the bedroom door
Our speed and distance were inestimable,
First we shunted, then we whistled, then

Somebody collected the invisible
For tickets and very gravely punched it
As carriage after carriage under us

Moved faster, chooka-chook, the sofa legs
Went giddy and the unreachable ones
Far out on the kitchen floor began to wave.

*


Ghost-train? Death-gondola? The carved, curved ends,
Black leatherette and ornate gauntness of it
Made it seem the sofa had achieved

Flotation. Its castors on tiptoe,
Its braid and fluent backboard gave it airs
Of superannuated pageantry:

When visitors endured it, straight-backed,
When it stood off in its own remoteness,
When the insufficient toys appeared on it

On Christmas mornings, it held out as itself,
Potentially heavenbound, earthbound for sure,
Among things that might add up or let you down

*


We entered history and ignorance
Under the wireless shelf. Yippee-i-ay,
Sang 'The Riders of the Range'. HERE IS THE NEWS,

Said the absolute speaker. Between him and us
A great gulf was fixed where pronunciation
Reigned tyrannically. The aerial wire

Swept from a treetop down in through a hole
Bored in the windowframe. When it moved in wind,
The sway of language and its furtherings

Swept and swayed in us like nets in water
Or the abstract, lonely curve of distant trains
As we entered history and ignorance.

*


We occupied our seats with all our might,
Fit for the uncomfortableness.
Constancy was its own reward already.

Out in front, on the big upholstered arm,
Somebody craned to the side, driver or
Fireman, wiping his dry brow with the air

Of one who had run the gauntlet. We were
The last thing on his mind, it seemed; we sensed
A tunnel coming up where we'd pour through

Like unlit carriages through fields at night,
Our only job to sit, eyes straight ahead,
And be transported and make engine noise.




The reason why I came back to this is because eventhough it starts so playful and innocent it then slowly changes and grows darker, heavier and I for a while wasn't really sure what I was reading anymore.

Doing some research on it today I came across interpretations that simply regard it as childhood nostalgie and others that thought it juxtaposes the make-believe play of the children with the terror of Jewish people being transported to their death. (Hence, A Sofa in the Forties)

Any thoughts?


message 33: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments That's interesting. I've not read that interpretation of it. I've always taken it to be referring to the juxtaposition between the innocence and optimism of childhood, and the 'great unknown' and complications of the adult/real world.

More specifically, I've taken the reference to 'the gulf where pronunciation reigned tyrannically' as relating to the troubles in Ireland,and how your accent defines you.

I've always found it an unsettling poem.


message 34: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Gill wrote: "That's interesting. I've not read that interpretation of it. I've always taken it to be referring to the juxtaposition between the innocence and optimism of childhood, and the 'great unknown' and c..."

That's exactly how I read it Gill, yet the forties were strongly defined by World War II, so eventhough the reference to the deportation trains had escaped me, I guess a society shaped by WWII along with the inner conflict Northern Ireland was facing, is the reality that sofa was traveling towards.


message 35: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (lanybum) My very very slight version of Death of a Naturalist arrived yesterday (I'd forgotten how tiny it is).

Anyway I read "Digging" yesterday evening and it took me right back to studying Heaney in school and I still love it.

Looking forward to spending some time with the other poems.


message 36: by [deleted user] (new)

My copy of Death of a Naturalist arrived this morning as well. It is teeny tiny, going to read some this afternoon with a cup of tea


message 37: by Elaine (new)

Elaine (lanybum) Heather wrote: "My copy of Death of a Naturalist arrived this morning as well. It is teeny tiny, going to read some this afternoon with a cup of tea"

Sounds like the perfect combination Heather.


message 38: by Alannah (new)

Alannah Clarke (alannahclarke) | 11966 comments Mod
Heather wrote: "My copy of Death of a Naturalist arrived this morning as well. It is teeny tiny, going to read some this afternoon with a cup of tea"

Sounds lovely, enjoy!


message 39: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Almost every night now I've been reading a poem from The Spirit Level. Tonight, I came across his poem 'Mycenae Lookout' which really stands out until now. Seamus beautifully intertwines Greek mythology and the Northern Irish conflict in this five part poem, eventhough I suppose it could also be read simply as an interpretation of the first part of Aeschylus's 'Oresteia": Agamemnon. Doing some research on it, I read that Heaney wrote it in direct reaction to the politics of Northern Ireland — in particular, the IRA ceasefire that began on August 31. Here is a link to the poem


message 40: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Glad you are enjoying the Spirit Level, Jenny. I'm enjoying your comments and they help to remind me that I need to get on with reading the poems also.


message 41: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Thank you Gill :) You are going to be reading Human Chain right? Looking forward to hearing what you think!


message 42: by [deleted user] (new)

I'm enjoying flicking through my boom. I didn't get to sit with my tea as suddenly a pile of errands appeared. I fade read a few. My favourite so far is Mid-Term Break. I can't link as on app but this is an outstanding poem and I'd urge you to look it up and read it. So powerful!


message 43: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Heather, I think Shirley posted it a while ago in Perks, so some of may remember it. I agree it is very beautiful and very very moving. I found a link to the poem and a link to an audio recording of Seamus reading it himself.


message 44: by [deleted user] (new)

I remembered somebody had posted it because I read it then and thought it was amazing. I showed it to my boyfriend and he was impressed as well


message 45: by [deleted user] (new)

Also, thanks for the links. Will listen to that audio later. I do love hearing poets read their work aloud. It helps with knowing where the intonation and pauses should be which I think aids the understanding of the poem


message 46: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments Jenny wrote: "Thank you Gill :) You are going to be reading Human Chain right? Looking forward to hearing what you think!"

That's correct, Jenny. I've had it on my Kindle for many months now, but keep getting diverted by other reads.


message 47: by Gill (new)

Gill | 5720 comments I've started readingHuman Chain. I think I'm going to work my way through most of the poems in the book, and then post about those that interest me most.


message 48: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments Looking forward to it Gill!


message 49: by Jenny (new)

Jenny (jeoblivion) | 4869 comments I am nearing the end of "The Spirit Life" and just came across this very short poem, that I thought was very touching and of simple beauty.

Heaney wrote it for Osip Mandelstam a poet that had deeply influenced him and whom he admired. Mandelstam, who died in one of Stalins Siberian work camps where he was sent due to his 'counterrevolutonary' activities, was simply called 'M.' by his wife Nadezhda Mandelstam which is also the title of Seamus Heaney's poem.

M.

When the deaf phonetician spread his hand
Over the dome of a speaker’s skull
He could tell which dipthhong and which vowel
By the bone vibrating to the sound.

A globe stops spinning. I set my palm
On a contour cold as permafrost
And imagine axle-hum and the steadfast
Russian of Osip Mandelstam.


message 50: by Anastasia (new)

Anastasia (universe_beats) | 401 comments I've taken The Haw Lantern for the readalong: I'm officially joining you! :-D


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