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Wintering Out

Wintering Out [Kindle Edition]

Seamus Heaney

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Product Description

Product Description

'Seamus Heaney has gone beyond the themes of his earlier poetry and has made the giant step towards the most ambitious, most intractable themes of maturity. The power of this book comes from a sense that he is reaching out towards a type of desolation and of isolation without which no imagination can be seen to have grown up.' Eavan Boland, Irish Times 'Keyed and pitched unlike any other significant poet at work in the language anywhere.' Harold Bloom, Times Literary Supplement

About the Author

Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. 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 have established him as one of the leading poets now at work. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. District and Circle was awarded the T. S. Eliot Prize in 2006. Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O'Driscoll, appeared in 2008. In 2009 he received the David Cohen Prize for Literature. Human Chain was awarded the 2010 Forward Prize for Best Collection.

Product details

  • Format: Kindle Edition
  • File Size: 123 KB
  • Print Length: 68 pages
  • Publisher: Faber & Faber Poetry (21 April 2011)
  • Sold by: Amazon Media EU S.à r.l.
  • Language: English
  • ASIN: B004Y443EM
  • Text-to-Speech: Enabled
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  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #412,649 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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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Wintering Out 3 Jan 2010
By Mads Pihl Rasmussen - Published on
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Wintering Out
68 pages
Published by: Faber and Faber
ISBN: 9780571101580

When I read Fodder, Bog Oak, and Anahorish, with their language that almost breathes the rural landscape and its activities it is hard to imagine that Heaney was writing and publishing Wintering Out in 1971 and 1972, the years of McGurk's bar, Ballymurphy, and Bloody Sunday marking a sad high point for the Northern Irish Troubles, which in `72 alone saw 500 people killed.

Those first three poems give away nothing about the poems later in the book that open the ground beneath the reader to expose an ethno-political conflict and its deep effect on Heaney's writing in these years. The opening trilogy of Wintering Out is a slow moving portrait of an unsentimental rural life short of romantic pastoralism and full of cultural context and meaning for both poet and dwellers.

"With pails and barrows

those mound-dwellers
go waist-deep in mist
to break the light ice
at wells and dunghills."

This is Anahorish, Heaney's `place of clear water', his childhood landscape around Mossbawn, where the inhabitants take on a quality through their working relationship with the landscape that for a second almost makes them collude with mythical mound-dwellers. At first this was just raw poetic beauty, but once I moved further into Wintering Out these images - created with the nouns and the place names of the land, Heaney's precision tools - started to make more sense as acts of place-making that tried to move away from the ethno-essentialization of Heaney's immediate present and show a bond between people and their landscape which has nothing to do with religion or other cultural vanities.

Wintering Out goes beyond the short scope of historical thinking of Heaney's countrymen to relocate a past much bigger, buried in the bogs of Ireland, which Heaney make emblematic of Irish identity and belonging. From the depths of bogs he draws his inspiration to write about a lifeworld where drizzle, mist, peat, moss, grass, rushes, cattle, and rivers dominate, but where "The softening ruts / lead back to no / `oak groves', no / cutters of mistletoe / in the clearings".

No sentimental gazes into a misty past here. It is not the country of current Troubles in which you live so much in the past that it has become a country of the past, rather it is a past dug up from bogs in both Denmark (in the poem The Tollund Man) and Ireland, which you can speak, name, place. And speaking the Irish words is a theme Heaney again and again explores in Wintering Out, both directly by emphasizing the vowel sounds and the guttural consonants, but also more subtly, like in Land IV:

"The tawny guttural water
speaks itself: Moyola
is its own score and consort,

bedding the locale
in the utterance"

Language shapes experience, and by speaking the place-names out loud we shape our surroundings in the process. We bed our locales. Yet, not everyone can just speak up and make the same meaning out of it. I think what lifts Heaney out of a mere poetry of places and people and into something else, into a poetry of human experience, a kind of phenomenology without the heavy going of continental philosophers on its back, is his ability to show in ever so few words how lifeworlds can be made and re-made by speaking about them. Paraphrasing the anthropologist Michael Herzfeld I'd say that Heaney can show what cultural intimacy means in just one sentence running through the length of three short verses in the celebrated poem Broagh:

"The garden mould
bruised easily, the shower
gathering in your heelmark
was the black O

in Broagh,
its low tattoo
among the windy boortrees
and rhubarb-blades

ended almost
suddenly, like that last
gh the strangers found
difficult to manage."

Here is no doubt that more is at stake than pronunciations and the position of the tongue. In "A New Song" this is further explored when certain vowel sounds are made symbolic of the Irish language, while demesnes - the lands owned by feudal lords - hide out in the consonants. Heaney seems to urge people to move away from the Crown English and stay with the Irish sounds like they stay in Ireland on land that has been reclaimed from the old invader and is now growing green again "Like bleaching-greens resumed by grass".

These comments on unwanted English presence also mark the gliding transitions in Wintering Out that occur along the way as Heaney becomes more direct in his references to the Troubles and his struggles to understand them, or at least to understand himself in relation to them.

While poems like A Northern Hoard can be read as laments of armed conflict, and Heaney's own sense of inability to do much about it apart from writing about it, these parts of Wintering Out are also the ones that touch me the least. They become almost too outpsoken,direct and therefore slightly bland. But that is only in comparison with the splendor of the rest. I simply prefer his explorations of the things that work as prismatic reflections of the Troubles, like the trickster and outcast portraits of The Last Mummer, Servant Boy (who is "wintering out / the back-end of a bad year"), and Cairn-Maker that all tread paths which harbour no feelings for either of the warring sides but work to show potential alternatives to the present.

Moving into Part II of Wintering Out I would call a large part of these the anthropological poems. In a sense the whole book could be called that (couldn't all Heaney's poetry?), being one long social excavation. Wedding Day, Mother of the Groom and A Winter's Tale all explore customs, rituals, and life on the periphery of local communities that can only tolerate so much divergence from the paths of bounded culture.

They deal in some way with rites of passage or liminal states, a theme most clearly outlined in two poems: Shorewoman which works to remind me of the outcasts figures of North Atlantic stories, the men who were forced or voluntarily took to the hills and lived shadow existences there - and like here where it is a woman "walking the firm margin" at the shoreline instead. And Limbo, whose title gives it away, and in which the mother's drowning of an illegitimate child creates a rite for her passing back into the gated fold of community moral life:

"Fishermen at Ballyshannon
Netted an infant last night
Along with the salmon.
An illegitimate spawning,

A small one thrown back
To the waters. But I'm sure
As she stood in the shallows
Ducking him tenderly

Till the frozen knobs of her wrists
Were dead as the gravel,
He was a minnow with hooks
Tearing her open.

She waded in under
The sign of the cross.
He was hauled in with the fish.
Now limbo will be

A cold glitter of souls
Through some far briny zone.
Even Christ's palms, unhealed,
Smart and cannot fish there."

So much more could be said about these poems than I am able to. Scores of books exist in which learned people give their own interpretations of Heaney's peotry, and while I have just briefly touched upon a few of the themes in Wintering Out that I found the most fascinating, I would suggest to anyone to take the time and enjoy this marvellous collection of poetry. Anyone can read this, really, since anyone will thread their own line of meaning through the words. But I doubt that there will be anyone left untouched by the beauty of the poems
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Heany - lovely, dark, rich and loamy 7 Oct 2013
By Fox in a Box - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Because he is a genius, because he is a stunning poet, because, because, because... He takes the reader deep into the earth, the hearts, minds and bodies of those who work the soil and draws inferences from this that are heartbreaking and marvelous.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars bravo 14 May 2013
By LeslieA - Published on
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Always one of the best bets....Heaney is a master and reading his work is a reflective treasure. I highly recommend this.
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