Finders Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001
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Along with a selection from the poet's three previous collections of prose (Preoccupations, The Government of the Tongue, and The Redress of Poetry), the present volume includes Heaney's finest lectures and a rich variety of pieces not previously collected in volume form, ranging from short newspaper articles to radio commentaries. In its soundings of a wide range of poets -- Irish and British, American and Eastern European, predecessors and contemporaries -- Finders Keepers is, as its title indicates, "an announcement of both excitement and possession."
become second nature to him. Dante, in fact, belonged in the rag-and-bone shop of Eliot’s middle-ageing heart, and it was from that sad organ, we might say, that all his lyric ladders started. Given the habitual probity, severity and strenuousness of Eliot’s mind, one has therefore no difficulty in crediting him with his right to those moments of release when his nerves threw patterns upon the screen of the language. Yet needless to say, back in that window-rattling classroom in Derry in 1956,
unpredictably from Keats’s own desperate need to square his essentially celebratory temperament with what he perceived to be the awful conditions. Or take Osip Mandelstam’s head-lightening faith that the poet is ‘a stealer of air’, and is therefore never a ‘worker’ in the sense officially demanded by the state, but works only in the sense that lacemakers work to make a design that is ‘air, perforations and truancy’, or bakers of doughnuts work to produce the antic hole rather than the worthy
about him drew; ‘What then?’ sang Plato’s ghost. ‘What then?’ ‘The work is done,’ grown old he thought, ‘According to my boyish plan; Let the fools rage, I swerved in naught, Something to perfection brought’; But louder sang that ghost, ‘What then?’ And the challenge of Plato’s ghost is matched and picked up in that other uncharacteristically introspective poem, ‘The Man and the Echo’, where the Echo mocks the Man and where the voice of conscience and remorse opposes itself to the artistic
eyes to be ‘shelled’, the ears to attend to silence and the tongue to know its place: Shape nothing, lips; be lovely-dumb: It is the shut, the curfew sent From there where all surrenders come Which only makes you eloquent. It is even more instructive to remember that Hopkins abandoned poetry when he entered the Jesuits ‘as not having to do with my vocation’. This manifests a world where the prevalent values and necessities leave poetry in a relatively underprivileged situation, requiring it
image, the death mask, are here strangely vital. What is truly malignant is that sea full of ‘claws / And whole crabs, dead, their soggy / Bellies pallid and upturned’, performing ‘their shambling waltzes’. It is not necessary to know about Sylvia Plath’s 1953 suicide attempt and her intent enterprise of self-renewal to discover in the conclusion of this poem a drama of survival, the attainment of a dry, hard-won ledge beyond the welter and slippage of Lethean temptations. And the convincing