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Redress of Poetry by Seamus Heaney
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Redress of Poetry (edition 2002)

by Seamus Heaney

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266142,770 (4.22)9
Member:clevercelt
Title:Redress of Poetry
Authors:Seamus Heaney
Info:Faber Paperbacks (2002), Paperback, 240 pages
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The redress of poetry by Seamus Heaney

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These are ten lectures reprinted in 1995 which were given by Heaney when he was Professor of poetry at Oxford between 1989 and 1994. Eight of the lectures/chapters concentrate on one or perhaps two poets and are top and tailed by two more general chapters; the first of which deals with the importance of poetry in cultural life and the second addresses issues around politics and political thought. They are all extremely well written and demonstrate Heaney’s knowledge and enthusiasm for his subject. They are full of insights and ideas, but never get too heavily involved in the mechanics (metre and structure) and so avoid being a dry; technical lesson that could take them out of the reach of the more general reader.

Heaney is careful to spell out what he means by redress, because his lectures examine two definitions of the word: the first and more obvious is to restore or re-establish poetry as an important cultural medium, but the second is to make a case for poetry in adjusting and/or correcting imbalances in the world. His main point is that poetry can go beyond other literature and art to provide a different and sometimes essential perspective. It can go beyond conventional bounds, it can touch heights that can amount to a spirituality that is both forcible and instructive. It can surprise in the way that at one moment it is unforeseeable and at the next indispensable and It should be both socially responsible and creatively free.

Heaney’s lectures occurred at a time when Northern Ireland was riven by political and religious upheaval and as an Ulsterman himself politics was never too far away from his thoughts. It is no surprise then that many of the poets he selects to illustrate his lectures were those who could be considered as from the “Celtic Fringe” for example: Brian Merman, Hugh McDiarmid, Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas and W B Yeats. There is also John Clare the rural poet from Northamptonshire, while the United States is represented by Elizabeth Bishop and England by Philip Larkin. The big political question that hovers in the background and sometimes roars into the foreground is how much England as a Nation had an influence on the poets, how much it brought out the poets into the light, how much they fought against an insidious oppression and how much they could restore a certain imbalance.

It was enough for me to be under the spell of some glorious writing from one of the 20th centuries greatest users of language. The lectures are not difficult to read and flowed by; lodging with me thoughts that affirm a love of life and a love of the written word. A four star read. ( )
5 vote baswood | Apr 15, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Amazon.com Review (ISBN 0374524882, Paperback)

From the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature comes a collection of essays based on lectures he delivered while Professor of Poetry at Oxford. The great Irish poet delivers wisdom about his craft in a style full of humor and devoid of pedantry. With his expansive spirit, Heaney examines poets such as Brian Merriman, Oscar Wilde, Dylan Thomas and, of course, William Butler Yeats. The Redress of Poetry is a rare opportunity to enter the lecture hall and learn from a master.

(retrieved from Amazon Thu, 12 Mar 2015 18:25:08 -0400)

(see all 5 descriptions)

Ten lectures of the poet exploring the poetry of a wide range of writers in this new work of criticism.

(summary from another edition)

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