The poems in Seamus Heaney's collection The Spirit Level keep discovering the possibilities of 'a new beginning' in all kinds of subjects and circumstances. What is at stake, in poem after poem, is the chance of buoyancy and balance, physical, spiritual and political. Private memories, classical scenes, humble domestic objects - a whitewash brush ...
The poems in Seamus Heaney's collection The Spirit Level keep discovering the possibilities of 'a new beginning' in all kinds of subjects and circumstances. What is at stake, in poem after poem, is the chance of buoyancy and balance, physical, spiritual and political. Private memories, classical scenes, humble domestic objects - a whitewash brush, a sofa, a swing - are endowed with talismanic significance, while friends and relatives are invoked for their promise and steadfastness. Throughout the collection, Heaney addresses his concerns, which inevitably include the political situation in his native Northern Ireland, in a poetry that never ceases to be fluid, alert and completely truthful.
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Publishers Weekly, 1996-04-29 As the title suggests, this new collection from the 1995 winner of the Nobel Prize is a study in balance. Heaney reveals how simple things, such as a thimble or a swing, can hold the weight of history-and how history can alter the emotional weight of an object. "Two Lorries" takes the romantic innocence of a coalman's truck, circa 1940, with its driver who stops to flirt with the poet's mother, and measures it against a present-day "heavier, deadlier one, set to explode." Meanwhile, the poems revel in wordplay. A favorite tactic is the repetition of words within a lines or stanzas, which can yield such simplicity as in "Bisected sunlight in the sunlit yard," or be as savvy as a politico's speech: "Like the disregarded ones we turned against/ Because we'd failed them by our disregard." Heaney, at the peak of his career, is the fulcrum of two Irelands: one that is lyrical and lush with tradition and love; another that is ticking and could "catch the heart off guard and blow it open." (June)
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