At the centre of this collection, which includes groups of elegies and love poems, there is a short sonnet sequence which concentrates themes apparent elsewhere in the book: the individual's responsibility for his own choices, the artist's commitment to his vocation, the vulnerability of all in the face of circumstance and death. "Throughout the volume Heaney's outstanding gifts, his eye, his ear, his understanding of the poetic language are on display - this is a book we cannot do without". (Martin Dodsworth, "Guardian").
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(198mm x 130mm x 7mm)
Faber & Faber
Publisher: Faber & Faber
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US Kirkus Review »
Field Work is Seamus Heaney's fifth book of poems, and his first to be published in this country. His strong and beautiful verse already has a following on American campuses, and this fine new book will undoubtedly extend the range of his influence. His Ireland is an "island. . . full of comfortless voices"; he lived in Belfast for many years, as the elegies for the war dead ("Casualty," "A Postcard from North Antrim," etc.) and other troubled poems attest. "Ugolino," the translation of a passage from The Divine Comedy, also concerns war and vengeance, and injustice: "For the sins/ of Ugolino, who betrayed your forts,/ Should never have been visited on his sons." The delicate "Elegy" is a memory of Robert Lowell's last days. But Heaney's Ireland is also quotidian: "She came every morning to draw water/ Like an old bat staggering up the field:/ The pump's whooping cough, the bucket's clatter/ And slow diminuendo as it filled,/ Announced her." Ten "Glanmore Sonnets," which occupy a central place in the book, commemorate an easing in the poet's life, a time when "Vowels ploughed into other: opened ground"; and this is the "field work" of the title poem as well. Looking at an ugly badger, Heaney asks: "How perilous is it to choose/ not to love the life we're shown?" Waist-deep in language, he does. A fine introduction to a staunch, resonant spirit. (Kirkus Reviews)
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Author Biography - Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966, and was followed by poetry, criticism and translations which established him as the leading poet of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and twice won the Whitbread Book of the Year, for The Spirit Level (1996) and Beowulf (1999). Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008; Human Chain, his last volume of poems, was awarded the 2010 Forward Prize for Best Collection. He died in 2013.