Electric Light Poems

Seamus Heaney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



Trade Paperback

112 Pages


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A New York Times Book Review Notable Book of 2001

Electric Light is the eleventh book of poetry by the Nobel laureate in Literature. In elegies, short takes, conversation poems, and translations, Heaney looks at the ancient light of classical times and the rural electrification of his childhood. This is a book about origins (not least the origins of words) and oracles: the places where things begin, the starting points, the ground of understanding—whether in Arcadia or Anahorish, the sanctuary at Epidaurus or the Bann Valley in County Derry.


Praise for Electric Light

"[Heaney] exercises poetry's power to proclaim truth and the artist's power to make us know that it is a truth we can't be without."—Richard Eder, The New York Times

"[Heaney's] awareness of his aging, which he turns away from in memory and looks past in poems about death, gives [Electric Light] special coherence and poignance . . . Like most of Heaney's books, it is a compendium of poetic genres."—Langdon Hammer, The New York Times Book Review

"The greatest Irish poet since Yeats continues to dazzle in his latest volume."—Los Angeles Times Book Review

"In [poems] like these, description rises to transcendent distillation."—Desmond Ryan, The Philadelphia Inquirer

"Electric Light is worth buying, reading, and committing portions of to memory."—Joshua Weiner, Chicago Tribune

"Among living, English-speaking poets, few make words perform as nimbly as Irish Nobelist Heaney. Each new book seems at once a deepening and a broadening of the tongue, as if he were synthesizing the cumulative, bardic voice of centuries . . . The protean poems in [Electric Light] ripple with birth and death, travel and memory, and subsume debts to both spiritual mentors (Virgil, Dante, Yeats) and peers (Hughes, Brodsky). They are rustic yet learned, classical yet contemporary . . . Heaney's secret handshake with language remains firm."—Library Journal

In the Press

Celebrating the Life and Work of Seamus Heaney | Work in Progress
Seamus Heaney's death last week left a rift in our lives, and in poetry, that won't easily be mended. A Nobel Laureate, a devoted husband, a sharp translator, a beloved friend, and the big-hearted leader of the "Government of the Tongue," Seamus was a poet of conscience...

Reviews from Goodreads



Read an Excerpt

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."

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  • Seamus Heaney

  • Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His many books of poetry include Opened Ground, Electric Light, The Spirit Level, Seeing Things, Station Island, The Haw Lantern, and Field Work, as well as translations of Beowulf and Diary of One Who Vanished. A resident of Dublin, he has taught poetry at Oxford University and Harvard University. In 2004, Heaney was presented with the Kenyon Review Award for Literary Achievement.
  • Seamus Heaney Keith Barnes