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on 8 June 2009
What a collection. A life's work that is still continuing and must be read. Heaney taps into the undergrowth of nature and links it beautifully to our own lives like no other poet. His sonnets "Clearances" are beautiful, and even in one case, humourous. His subjects vary of course, but always with that earthy mood that is so typically Seamus Heaney. As a reader of poetry you must own this book.
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on 1 September 2013

the day after Seamus Heaney died
i went to search for blackberries

at the end of August,
the end of summer
just before the west coast rains
began again
before the cold
shouldered itself back in

Most were already gone
the determined with their sticks
having already beaten the bushes flat,
taken everything

the only ones that i could find
were those
where people didn't want to go

beyond the twisted shins
of the disused rail lines
out of site of condominiums ,
the mutually assured policing
by ordinariness ,
the cosy paranoia of neighbors

beyond the homeless peoples
seasonal campsite
the unpicked bulges of their possessions
hanging overripe in white plastic bags
from thin limb trees

out to where the fruit still lived

the thick rosary of berry flesh still unbroken
the solid blood uncut , untroubled
loosening me in its gravity

the stigmata of juice
pressing through my hands
as i promised that dead Irishman
whom i had never met
that i would eat as many as i could

none would go to waste

the rat grey fungus would be banished
the sourness of decay would not be known
at least in this place, for this one day.
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on 22 November 2013
I love Seamus Heaney's poetry and I have a few scattered collections - Stations, Death of a Naturalist - but I've recently treated myself to this because it covers most of Seamus' collections, from the first in 1966 right up to The Spirit Level in 1996. This gives a wonderful overview of the development of his work and it also includes his Nobel lecture 'Crediting Poetry'.

Seamus chose the poems to be included himself, weeding out ones he was no longer happy with and some of the poems were re-written, though the alterations are so minor it's difficult to find any differences.

All my favourites are there - The Forge, Digging, The Barn, Churning Day, and his prose poem The Stations of the West, which describes how he was sent to the Gaeltacht to learn Gaelic and hoped, perhaps, to learn something of the Celtic mysteries. These visions are denied the child, but there are other kinds of revelation. It ends:

'Neither did any gift of tongues descend in my days in that upper room when all around me seemed to prophesy. But still I would recall the stations of the west, white sand, hard rock, light ascending like its definition over Ranna-fast and Errigal, Annaghry and Kincasslagh; names portable as altar stones, unleavened elements.'

Other favourites are the poems about his childhood home, Mossbawn, political poems such as The Ministry of Fear, Oysters, The Skunk - his erotic poem to his wife, peeling potatoes with Mary Heaney in 'Clearances', then the beautiful Postscript, and finally Song -

'There are the mud-flowers of dialect
And the immortelles of perfect pitch
And that moment when the bird sings very close
To the music of what happens.'

Yes, that's it exactly - that's what the poetry does. Words like 'big, soft buffetings' that come at you sideways 'And catch the heart off guard and blow it open'.
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on 6 November 2013
I'm not much into poetry but after Heaney's death I saw a few tv programmes about him and thought I should learn more. I'm still no wiser about poetry, I suppose you either get it or you don't. I went to a school in N I where we learnt the English poets, not the Irish, an unbalanced system if ever. Anyway. As one who did the science thing rather than the literature I can say he has an amazing way with words and expression and often builds a tempo that powers the lot along in an engaging way. One has pause to thought. I have marked many poems and will return to them as time and mood permit.
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on 12 October 2013
In the author's note at the beginning of this volume of his poetry, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) tells us that these poems are gathered to be somewhere between a selection and a collection. Indeed, OPENED GROUND contains the essential poems from twelve of the previous published volumes of Heaney's amazing and accessible poetry...and his 1995 acceptance speech for the Nobel prize. I ordered this volume because it contains his love poem to his wife Marie..."The Skunk."

Several days after Heaney's passing on August 30, 2013, my Irish-loving friends began posting on social media and in emails their favorite poems and meetings with the beloved Irish poet. I posted the page in my THE HAW LANTERN that contains his "Clearances"...written for his mother Mary Heaney... and his signature. Three members of my first literary tour of Ireland in 1986, including UNF Professor Emeritus Dick Bizot, wanted to have a reading in memoriam. Another friend, a Joycean scholar, wrote on Facebook that he was the only serious reader of Irish literature who had not met Heaney. Michael O'Shea, who lectures wittingly about Finnegans Wake then offered Heaney's great love poem in tribute.

It's a fine and thoughtful poem..."The Skunk." But I regret buying the paperback. I found a nice copy of the poem on the internet and printed it. A lively 70-something Irish American veterinarian in a red shirt read it at our memoriam. And I'm searching again on Amazon...and a few other places...for a nice hardcover of OPENED GROUND for many future readings.

The paperback edition, beside its binding, has a rather small and faint type.

(Lucky Amazon UK shoppers. Faber publishes a hardcover reprint of Opened Ground on November 7, 2013.)
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on 24 February 2008
Heaney is a very special poet, similar in my mind to Yeats and Dylan Thomas, with a Zen Buddhist twist - an underground clearly visible through the influences of the Chinese poet Han Shan "Cold Mountain". Like Zen poetry he is often very simple, linear, and descriptive on the surface yet with lots of intertwining symbolism, language play and richness working to create a poetic reality true to external reality yet ripping open to a more profound reality in his attempt to "stabilize truth" as Ben Johnson has said. He is also often times very oblique in his simplicity - a challenge to any poetic mind. This collection also includes his Nobel Prize acceptance speech, "Crediting Poetry" which is a gem. He is a modern classic. This collection includes most of his best works as well as an excerpt from his play "The Cure at Troy". Cold Mountain: Poetry of Han-Shan: A Complete Annotated Translation of Cold Mountain (SUNY Series in Buddhist Studies)
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on 26 April 2000
I really enjoyed reading 'Opened Ground' as part of my English A level course, especially the 'bog' poems in 'Wintering Out' and 'North'. Heaney has an extraordinary fascination with the discoveries of various iron age bodies as shown by his deeply but clearly expressed emotions and feelings in each of his poems. They are all easy to read and follow making me feel as if I could really relate to what Heaney saw and felt.
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on 9 July 2013
Seamus Heaney is a great Poet. Recorder of real experience of the human condition. To all lovers of
moving and fine poetry.

This volume is long-awaited, and it covers a significant period of Heaney's output.
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on 31 July 2016
Seamus Heaney's poetry is just magical, every line, every word, every thought process. He paints word pictures so vivid that you can be there in the centre of them, whether in the bog, the battle, or the pram.
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on 31 May 2011
Often when reading poetry one will turn to older poets, Wilde, Baudelaire, but Heany is a modern poet who can be held amongst these older giants.
The poetry talks mainly on the subject of rural life, but it still manages to appeals to those, like myself who don't have any real experience of it.
He uses breathtaking metaphors and clever similes to compose truly outstanding poetry!
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