“Electric Light” by Seamus Heaney (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2001)

Heaney’s New Poetry

Electric Lightstarstarstar

After last year’s bestselling success of Beowulf: A New Verse Translation, renowned author Seamus Heaney now brings us his latest collection of poetry, entitled Electric Light.  The collection is split into two sections: a) sweeping poetry, starting off in Heaney’s homeland of Ireland, and then traveling all over the world, from Belgrade to Greece, and b) moving poetry dedicated to those who have passed away like Ted Hughes and Joseph Brodsky.  Offering fresh language, as well as plenty of his own style, Heaney takes the reader on a most unique journey.

“At Toomebridge”

Where the flat water
Came pouring over the weird out of Lough Neagh
As if it had reached an edge of the flat earth
And fallen shining to the continuous
Present of the Bann

Where the checkpoint used to be.
Where the rebel boy was hanged in ’98.
Where negative ions in the open air
Are poetry to me.  As once before
The Slime and silver of the fattened eel.

“To the Shade of Zbigniew Herbert”

You were one of those from the back of the north wind
Whom Apollo favoured and would keep going back to
In the winter season.
And among your people you
Remained his herald whenever he’d departed
And the land was silent and summer’s promise thwarted.
You learnt the lyre from him and kept it tuned.

If you liked this review and are interested in purchasing this book, click here.

Originally published on October 8th 2001 ©Alex C. Telander.

Originally published in the Long Beach Union.


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