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Opened Ground: Poems, 1966-96 Hardcover – 7 Sep 1998

4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews

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Hardcover, 7 Sep 1998
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Product details

  • Hardcover: 496 pages
  • Publisher: Faber and Faber; First edition. Hardback. edition (7 Sept. 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0571194923
  • ISBN-13: 978-0571194926
  • Product Dimensions: 14.8 x 4 x 22.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars 27 customer reviews
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 447,839 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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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

Review

"[This collection] eloquently confirms his status as the most skillful and profound poet writing in English today."--Edward Mendelson, "The New York Times Book Review"
"Perhaps the best descriptions of Seamus Heaney's extraordinarily rich and varied oeuvre come from the poet's own work. Mr. Heaney has created a remarkable series of poems that stay 'true to the impact of external reality' while at the same time remaining 'sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being.'"--Michiko Kakutani, "The New York Times"
"Having just reread most of his poems, I find myself more, not less, interested, and convinced that I have only begun to plumb their bracing depths . . . The poems stay in the mind, which is the one essential feature of major poetry."--Jay Parini, "The Nation"
"Heaney's commitment to the independence of his art, to the pursuit of shape and richness and abundant ambiguity, is also a profound commitment to the quality of public life . . . In a dark time, Heaney . . . has turned borders and dividing lines into rich frontiers."--Fintan O'Toole, T"he New York Review of Books"


[This collection] eloquently confirms his status as the most skillful and profound poet writing in English today. "Edward Mendelson, The New York Times Book Review"

Perhaps the best descriptions of Seamus Heaney's extraordinarily rich and varied oeuvre come from the poet's own work. Mr. Heaney has created a remarkable series of poems that stay 'true to the impact of external reality' while at the same time remaining 'sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being.' "Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times"

Having just reread most of his poems, I find myself more, not less, interested, and convinced that I have only begun to plumb their bracing depths . . . The poems stay in the mind, which is the one essential feature of major poetry. "Jay Parini, The Nation"

Heaney's commitment to the independence of his art, to the pursuit of shape and richness and abundant ambiguity, is also a profound commitment to the quality of public life . . . In a dark time, Heaney . . . has turned borders and dividing lines into rich frontiers. "Fintan O'Toole, The New York Review of Books""

"[This collection] eloquently confirms his status as the most skillful and profound poet writing in English today." --Edward Mendelson, The New York Times Book Review

"Perhaps the best descriptions of Seamus Heaney's extraordinarily rich and varied oeuvre come from the poet's own work. Mr. Heaney has created a remarkable series of poems that stay 'true to the impact of external reality' while at the same time remaining 'sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being.'" --Michiko Kakutani, The New York Times

"Having just reread most of his poems, I find myself more, not less, interested, and convinced that I have only begun to plumb their bracing depths . . . The poems stay in the mind, which is the one essential feature of major poetry." --Jay Parini, The Nation

"Heaney's commitment to the independence of his art, to the pursuit of shape and richness and abundant ambiguity, is also a profound commitment to the quality of public life . . . In a dark time, Heaney . . . has turned borders and dividing lines into rich frontiers." --Fintan O'Toole, The New York Review of Books

--This text refers to the Paperback edition.

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