- Paperback: 44 pages
- Publisher: Faber & Faber; Main edition (7 Oct. 2002)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0571101267
- ISBN-13: 978-0571101269
- Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.6 x 0.6 cm
- Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 538,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Door into the Dark (Faber Paperbacks) Paperback – 7 Oct 2002
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"Heaney has the gift of finding a new and consummate phrase to evoke physical qualities, and when these take on symbolic resonance the result is superb. . . . [This] collection as a whole is a splendid achievement."--Richard Kell, "The Guardian"
Door into the Dark, by Seamus Heaney, depicts the Irish poet's rural upbringing with the sensuousness and physicality of language that would become the hallmark of his early writing.See all Product Description
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The sky is tall as over a runway,/ The land without marks so you will not arrive/
But pass through, though always skirting landfall./ At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,/ The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable/ And you're in the dark again.
Many of the poems in this volume focus on rural people and the work they do, including a thatcher and a farm wife. As in other work of his, Heaney uses onomatopoeia with energy and exactness. He often forgoes traditional rhyme, but uses internal rhyme which contributes to the rhythm of the poem. Here are lines from "Thatcher" to illustrate my point: "He eyed the old rigging, poked at the eaves,/ Opened and handled sheaves of lashed wheat-straw." One of the fiercest poems in the collection is "Requiem for the Croppies." An Oxford English Dictionary is an important resource. I discovered that Croppies were Irish rebels who, in 1798, cropped their hair very short to show their alliance with the French Revolution. The sonnet seems to be a favorite form of Heaney; he uses it to describe the slaughter of the Irish rebels by English forces:
...on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave./ Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at canon./ The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave./ They buried us without shroud or coffin/ And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.
I recommend keeping a dictionary nearby when you read any poetry and certainly when you read Heaney's work. You may want to look up words such as couchant, thatcher, tarn, and bespoke. A reader of poetry knows that every word of every poem is essential in appreciating and understanding the total meaning. Heaney's poetry is intense, challenging, and definitely worthwhile. I recommend any/all of his books.
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley --
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp --
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people, hardly marching -- on the hike --
We found new tactics happening each day:
We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until, on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.
Though of the thirty-four poems, there is only one other sonnet, most of the poems are formal and many employ rhyme. That is one reason I take to Heaney. Another is that he writes about people and human activity (rather than abstractions or metaphysics), and hence his poems are easily understood.