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Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 Paperback – 2 Jan 2002


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Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 + Human Chain + Death of a Naturalist
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Product details

  • Paperback: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (2 Jan. 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571194931
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571194933
  • Product Dimensions: 12.8 x 3.6 x 19.8 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.7 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (21 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 137,060 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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

Product Description

Amazon Review

In "Digging", the first poem in Opened Ground, Heaney likens his pen to both spade and gun. With these metaphors in place, he makes clear his difficult poetic task: to delve into the past, both personal and historic, while remaining ever mindful of the potentially fatal power of language. Born and raised in Northern Ireland, where any hint of Gaelic tradition in one's speech was considered a political act, Heaney is all too aware of the dire consequences of speaking one's mind. Indeed, during times of crisis, he has been expected to appear on television and dispense political wisdom. Most often, however, he stays out of the fray and opts for a supreme sense of empathy to guide his words.

As excavator--of earth, of his beloved Gaelic, of his own life--Heaney is unmatched. In "Bone Dreams", the archaeologist's task is synonymous with reaching for a cultural past:

I push back
through dictions,
Elizabethan canopies,
Norman devices,

the erotic mayflowers
of Provence
and the ivied Latins
of churchmen

to the scop's
twang, the iron
flash of consonants
cleaving the line.
And in early poems like "Blackberry Picking", Heaney's images--deftly, delightfully--carry us back to childhood fields:
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full...
Opened Ground is a pleasure and a triumph. These three decades of work confirm Heaney as one of the most important poets of his time. --Martha Silano --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Book Description

Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney comes as close to being a 'Collected Poems' as its author - the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet - cares to make it.

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Customer Reviews

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By The Book Witch on 22 Nov. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I love Seamus Heaney's poetry and I have a few scattered collections - Stations, Death of a Naturalist - but I've recently treated myself to this because it covers most of Seamus' collections, from the first in 1966 right up to The Spirit Level in 1996. This gives a wonderful overview of the development of his work and it also includes his Nobel lecture 'Crediting Poetry'.

Seamus chose the poems to be included himself, weeding out ones he was no longer happy with and some of the poems were re-written, though the alterations are so minor it's difficult to find any differences.

All my favourites are there - The Forge, Digging, The Barn, Churning Day, and his prose poem The Stations of the West, which describes how he was sent to the Gaeltacht to learn Gaelic and hoped, perhaps, to learn something of the Celtic mysteries. These visions are denied the child, but there are other kinds of revelation. It ends:

'Neither did any gift of tongues descend in my days in that upper room when all around me seemed to prophesy. But still I would recall the stations of the west, white sand, hard rock, light ascending like its definition over Ranna-fast and Errigal, Annaghry and Kincasslagh; names portable as altar stones, unleavened elements.'

Other favourites are the poems about his childhood home, Mossbawn, political poems such as The Ministry of Fear, Oysters, The Skunk - his erotic poem to his wife, peeling potatoes with Mary Heaney in 'Clearances', then the beautiful Postscript, and finally Song -

'There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.'

Yes, that's it exactly - that's what the poetry does. Words like 'big, soft buffetings' that come at you sideways 'And catch the heart off guard and blow it open'.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By Mal on 6 Nov. 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I'm not much into poetry but after Heaney's death I saw a few tv programmes about him and thought I should learn more. I'm still no wiser about poetry, I suppose you either get it or you don't. I went to a school in N I where we learnt the English poets, not the Irish, an unbalanced system if ever. Anyway. As one who did the science thing rather than the literature I can say he has an amazing way with words and expression and often builds a tempo that powers the lot along in an engaging way. One has pause to thought. I have marked many poems and will return to them as time and mood permit.
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Matthew Rice on 8 Jun. 2009
Format: Paperback
What a collection. A life's work that is still continuing and must be read. Heaney taps into the undergrowth of nature and links it beautifully to our own lives like no other poet. His sonnets "Clearances" are beautiful, and even in one case, humourous. His subjects vary of course, but always with that earthy mood that is so typically Seamus Heaney. As a reader of poetry you must own this book.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Jordan on 31 May 2011
Format: Paperback
Often when reading poetry one will turn to older poets, Wilde, Baudelaire, but Heany is a modern poet who can be held amongst these older giants.
The poetry talks mainly on the subject of rural life, but it still manages to appeals to those, like myself who don't have any real experience of it.
He uses breathtaking metaphors and clever similes to compose truly outstanding poetry!
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 26 April 2000
Format: Hardcover
I really enjoyed reading 'Opened Ground' as part of my English A level course, especially the 'bog' poems in 'Wintering Out' and 'North'. Heaney has an extraordinary fascination with the discoveries of various iron age bodies as shown by his deeply but clearly expressed emotions and feelings in each of his poems. They are all easy to read and follow making me feel as if I could really relate to what Heaney saw and felt.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Paul Hutchinson on 9 July 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Seamus Heaney is a great Poet. Recorder of real experience of the human condition. To all lovers of
moving and fine poetry.

This volume is long-awaited, and it covers a significant period of Heaney's output.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Steve on 21 Sept. 2013
Format: Kindle Edition
If you want to read a comprehensive and broad collection of Seamus Heaney's work then this is the collection for you. All the popular poems plus many that should be!
Highly recommended.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful By Marcolorenzo TOP 1000 REVIEWER on 24 Feb. 2008
Format: Hardcover
Heaney is a very special poet, similar in my mind to Yeats and Dylan Thomas, with a Zen Buddhist twist - an underground clearly visible through the influences of the Chinese poet Han Shan "Cold Mountain". Like Zen poetry he is often very simple, linear, and descriptive on the surface yet with lots of intertwining symbolism, language play and richness working to create a poetic reality true to external reality yet ripping open to a more profound reality in his attempt to "stabilize truth" as Ben Johnson has said. He is also often times very oblique in his simplicity - a challenge to any poetic mind. This collection also includes his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, "Crediting Poetry" which is a gem. He is a modern classic. This collection includes most of his best works as well as an excerpt from his play "The Cure at Troy". Cold Mountain: Poetry of Han-Shan: A Complete Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain (SUNY Series in Buddhist Studies)
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