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Human Chain [Kindle Edition]

Seamus Heaney
4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)

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Book Description

Seamus Heaney's new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present - the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered. Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, as lifelines to the inherited past. There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems which stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other 'hermit songs' which weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet's early calling as scholar. A remarkable sequence entitled 'Route 110' plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s adolescence to the birth of the poet's first grandchild. Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead - friends, neighbours and family - which is yet wholly and movingly vernacular. Human Chain also adapts a poetic 'herbal' by the Breton poet Guillevic - lyrics as delicate as ferns, which puzzle briefly over the world of things which excludes human speech, while affirming the interconnectedness of phenomena, as of a self-sufficiency in which we too are included. Human Chain is Seamus Heaney's twelfth collection of poems.

Product Description


'These poems are sparse, compact little jewels. Reading them is like biting into a meal cooked by an expert chef; every so often, you take a bite that is suddenly, blindingly full of flavour ... supreme.' --Evening Standard

'This beautiful and affecting collection includes Heaney's own not-so-distant brush with death ... The prevailing tone is retrospective, clear and unflustered as if written from the vantage point of a small hilltop ... Many poems are tender and welcoming but Heaney was never one for false consolation. There are bracing elegies here too. ' --Kate Kellaway, Observer POETRY BOOK OF THE MONTH

'The poems in it [the collection] are short, unpretentious, and often about quite humdrum things. But they are a jubilant display of unfaltering and seemingly casual mastery … this collection is almost a mini-biography, but made of poetic wonders not career steps … complete, brilliant and assured, reminding us once more that as a poet Heaney is on his own.' --John Carey, Sunday Times

'Magnificent collection.' -- Irish Times

'Remarkably beautiful poems ... a superb collection from a poet at the peak of his powers.' -- Sunday Business Post

'Sparse, compact little jewels ... supreme.' --Scotsman

'The poems in it [the collection] are short, unpretentious, and often about quite humdrum things. But they are a jubilant display of unfaltering and seemingly casual mastery … this collection is almost a mini-biography, but made of poetic wonders not career steps … complete, brilliant and assured, reminding us once more that as a poet Heaney is on his own.' --John Carey, Sunday Times

Book Description

A new collection of poems from Nobel Prize winning writer Seamus Heaney.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 182 KB
  • Print Length: 96 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Poetry; First edition (2 Sept. 2010)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B0044DEFRS
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
  • X-Ray:
  • Word Wise: Not Enabled
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (14 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #205,028 Paid in Kindle Store (See Top 100 Paid in Kindle Store)
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More About the Author

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland in 1939. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966 and since then he has published poetry, criticism and translations - including Beowulf (1999) - which established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. District and Circle (2006), his eleventh collection, was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize. Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008. In 2009 he received the David Cohen Prize for Literature. His twelfth collection of poetry, Human Chain, was published in 2010.

Seamus Heaney died in Dublin on August 30th, 2013

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Customer Reviews

4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
38 of 42 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Enriched Not Drained 17 Nov. 2010
By Scribe
Seamus Heaney is a rare and generous writer because his work leaves you enriched not drained. He is a writer of the old school who always offers something new. For him, writing is a craft and a gift, never a copy. You can read his poems knowing there is not a single line that is fake. The Human Chain bears the hallmark of authenticity, fresh and glistening amid all the staleness. In a world of mass communication where so many are shouting to be heard, Heaney need not even raise his voice.
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47 of 53 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Possibly perfect 22 Dec. 2010
I'm not even going to think about calling this a review of Seamus Heaney's latest collection of poems, Human Chain.. It would be incredibly presumptuous on my part to even suggest that I'm going to "evaluate" his work (of course, normally I'm always presumptuous in terms of reviewing!). Instead, I'm going to just relay a few points that I love about this amazing poet, and why you should read him if you haven't already.

For one thing, his writing style is so straightforward and concise. It's not fluffy or ostentatious or full of bizarre allusions that make you feel ignorant for not understanding. Instead, he writes like a reader, with spare words that draw crisp pictures. Yet his poetry does have can find multiple meanings if you ponder what he says, so they still have depth and are certainly not simplistic at all. In fact, in many ways his simplicity is deceiving.

For example, I recently re-read "Digging", a poem he wrote in 1968 about a man admiring his father's and grandfather's strength as they turned over turf and worked the land in Ireland. He concludes the poem with something along the lines (I'm paraphrasing) that 'I'll have to do the work with my pen'. What initially is a pleasant enough little story (hard work, family, nature) suddenly had a deeper meaning and then, "digging" into it, one could see he was commenting on the struggles of Northern Ireland and showing the violence that was sometimes used to create change in the Republic. He never got pushy or overtly political but you could clearly see that he was sending another message.

So, in reading Human Chain, I was again dazzled by his subtlety.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heaney forever. 10 Dec. 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Such beautiful gems - great brightly coloured high contrast images. I am done but need ten more words to post.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wonderful Poetry. 13 Feb. 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Love Seamus Heaney poems, such meaning and understanding. This book is just as enjoyable as all his poetry books.
Highly recommended to everyone.!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very good poetry 28 Aug. 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Human chain is a poetry collection defined by memory, death and sadness, the recollection of thought that burdens a mind but also sets it free.

In "had I not been awake" Heany remembers a gust of wind that rattles the house.. The surge of adrenalin that had him " alive and ticking like an electric fence". A poem that defines a personal memory but also gets the reader to think about the fickleness of time and how random moments can be stored in the mind..

"uncoupled" is a journey in to grief and loss, a snap shot of "where were you when you heard the news" that shadow the big events not only in world history but in our personal lives. "I know the pain of loss before I know the term"

"the Butts" deals with the pain of peoples material belongings and what memories they invoke and has the haunting imagery of death and frailty attached to every day objects...

"the wood road" ask the questions I anything can change? Can anything turn over a new leaf and with a new image start again? Can the newly resurfaced wood road become new again and wipe away the death and agony caused on its asphalt strip? The young dead child smoothed over in to the gravel. Heaney asks dark questions which leave a burning imprint as to the nature of the human soul

Human Chain is a remarkable collection of poems that explore the anguish and torment caused by loss and death and the decline of the human body. Although the poems give an air of inevitability to human life their is a consolation in the form of the redeeming and healing properties of memory and that whilst something is still remembered it can never truly be forgotten.

Heaney is able to use his past memories as a sounding board for today.
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9 of 13 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Too Narrow in Subject Matter 26 July 2011
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Human Chain is Seamus Heaney's twentieth collection of poems and I must admit that I have only read two of his collections. He has won many awards including the Nobel prize and I have heard some commentators say he is probably the greatest living poet writing in English. I must be missing something. I don't know if it is a cultural gap but whilst I admire the writing I am afraid that I find the content of this collection too narrow and insular. It seems to me that he lacks that universal appeal of most, if not all, of the great writers.

Most of poems in Human Chain are delivered in blank triplet verse. Although Heaney sometimes makes use of Latin phrases, the diction in most of the poems is simple and straight forward. There are not many flourishes of rhetoric language - not necessarily a weakness. Rhythmically, in the main, the short lines have a staccato detached feel from each other, giving some of the poems a deeply personal feel.

The poems in this collection are tightly condensed and concise. Just when one thinks that one has grasped or eked out a meaning some of the poems take a turn and becomes illusory. So take the title poem, Human Chain, one is intrigued by its allusion to addressing human suffering but one must be equally struck by how that act of kindness is over shadowed by the focus on the narrator's action of: "With a grip on two sack corners,/Two packed wads of grain I'd worked to lugs/To give me purchase ready for the heave" - and on it continues in that self centred vein.

Some of the poems that stood out for me were: "The Conway Steward", where the action in the use of a pen is used to demonstrate the parting or leave taking from someone known or loved.
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