18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on 26 January 2001
Highly recommended for anyone to whom poetry is important and feels that most criticism seems to miss the point.
These lectures were originally conceived and delivered as individual pieces, but as a collection they also provide an account and defence of Heaney's philosophy of poetry. Heaney deals with poems from the point of view of a reader to whom poetry is important as a means of understanding and coping with life -- for whom, as he says, poetry is "strong enough to help".
As literary criticism they are excellent (if eclectic), and are particularly valuable because they are free of much of the nonsense which creeps into academic commentary on poetry. This isn't to say that Heaney always makes perfect sense, and a couple of the pieces veer towards self-indulgence; nevertheless they are extremely readable, stimulating and -- an extremely rare thing in critical writing -- inspiring.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Between 1989-1994, Seamus Heaney was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, a very prestigious Chair; three public lectures are expected each year and, although the linking thread is obvious, the lectures range over a wide area. Not all his lectures are published here, five of his fifteen are missing. However, there is enough in what remains to give great insights into his poetic preoccupations, the poetic imagination and the man himself.
" ... I now realize the overall them of the poetry I had been collecting here grew out of poetry I had been writing in the years preceding the summer of 1989 when my tenure at Oxford began. Poems and parables about crossing from the domain of the matter-of-fact into the domain of the imagines had been among the work that appeared in 'The Haw Lantern' in 1987 ..." (Introduction, P. xiii)
Redress of Poetry
Frontiers of Writing
"Ever since Plato, poets have been a victim of the allegation that poetry is a useless thing and that it does not have anything to offer. And poets have always been trying to defend themselves. It is probably Heaney who has defended poetry the best" in chapter one.
Although not all the subjects will be to everyone's taste, there will be enough here to interest anyone with even a passing acquaintance with poetry; for those with an interest, there is enough to fascinate.