on 3 February 2000
Heaney's effortless appropriation of bog-bodies continues through this remarkable volume. Putting Northern Irish politics inside the framework of Northern European history, Heaney fetishises the dead in order to reappraise the living.
His voice has become mature, considered, reflective; he manages to avoid the cliched "cashing in" which Northern Irish poets are ocassionally accused of. As he says himself in "Exposure";
I am neither internee nor informer;
An inner emigre, grown long-haired
on 31 March 2001
From the opening of 'North' Heaney is conscious of his marginalisation. In this collection the bog, neither land nor water and both the oppressing goddess and the passive womb, is a layer of mud on which Heaney's consciousness germinates. This is part of Heaney's pilgrimage both past and upto 'the Irish thing' and the poetry is slow, deep, reflective and brilliant as the bog reveals both 'gem stones' and layers of the poets wet and bottomless consciousness. Heaney moves lucidly from the 'Honeycombed workings' of this achealogical journey to set himself against a backdrop of myth in this gloriously muddy pursuit of his whole identity.