The Government of the Tongue Selected Prose, 1978-1987

Seamus Heaney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

0374522200

9780374522209

Trade Paperback

225 Pages

$18.00

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In this volume of critical essays, Heaney scrutinizes the poetry of several master-poets, including Owen, Mandelstam, Herbert, Eliot, Lowell, and Plath. Throughout, the author is a reliably wise and genial reader, a critic of characteristic charity and exactness. These essays remind us, above all, of the essentially gratifying nature of poetry itself.

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Praise for The Government of the Tongue

"The 20th century saw the emergence of the poet as witness—voicing solidarity with the doomed, the victimized, the dispossessed. Irish poet Heaney here gauges this trend in essays on Wilfred Owen, Osip Mandelstam, and Zbigniew Herbert. He admits that the power of the poem to change the world is almost nil. Then, turning to T. S. Eliot's 'Waste Land,' he affirms the healing value of poetry as its own vindicating force, restoring us to our true selves. Interrelated essays investigate the ways in which W.H. Auden, Robert Lowell, and Sylvia Plath each became an 'antenna,' getting beyond the ego to voice the spiritual yearnings and anxieties of our time. Heaney has a fine ear for Derek Walcott's lush Caribbean verse, which he calls 'a common resource,' and for 'the wire-sculpture economy' of Miroslaw Holub's games of knowledge. Beautifully written, these essays and reviews reconfirm poets as—borrowing the phrase of another poet—the unacknowledged legislators of the world."—Publishers Weekly

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...

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BOOK EXCERPTS

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Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His most recent translations are Beowulf and Diary of One Who Vanished. His most recent collection of poems is Opened Ground.
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ABOUT THE AUTHOR

  • 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
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