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The Redress of Poetry: Oxford Lectures Paperback – 7 Oct 2002
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"Nobel laureate Heaney is a pastoralist with a strong and critical sense of history. His rich and earthy poems are about the life of the land of northern Ireland as well as the evolution of the heavily mythologized Irish identity. Heaney's sonorous lyricism stems from his love of the cycles of country life, the mystery of the sea, the satisfying rhythm of hard, physical work. But Heaney loves poetry and poetics as well as nature and expresses this passion in his forceful if demanding literary essays. This is his third book of criticism, and it contains 10 lectures Heaney delivered as professor of poetry at Oxford. In the title essay, Heaney explains how poetry balances the 'scales of reality towards some transcendent equilibrium.' After considering all the burdens contemporary poets carry, from the long tradition of the form itself to pressing political perspectives, Heaney still insists that 'poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentally self-delighting inventiveness.' This viewpoint
Delivered while Heaney was Professor of Poetry at Oxford, these lectures cover subjects as diverse as Wilde's "Ballad of Reading Gaol" and Marlowe's "Hero and Leander", as well as work by Yeats, Larkin and Dylan Thomas.See all Product description
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" ... 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.
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.
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