Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Spirit Level

The Spirit Level


Seamus Heaney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux



In The Spirit Level, as ever with Seamus Heaney, personal memory and humble domestic objects -- a whitewash brush, a sofa, a swing -- are endowed with talismanic significance, and throughout the collection he addresses his growing concerns, which inevitably include the political situation in his native Northern Ireland, in a poetry that never ceases to be fluid, alert, and completely truthful.

Whitbread Book Award - Winner


Praise for The Spirit Level

“This is . . . not just a new book but a book with newness in it, as all Heaney's collections have been. It marks a sustained effort, not exactly to unite the two parts of himself and his cultural inheritance but rather to make the line between them more permeable than before.” —Nicholas Jenkins, The Times Literary Supplement

“So many of [Heaney's] poems have become personal lodestones for us that reading this new book is like awakening to an experience both fresh and familiar. From his earliest poems, he has presented the ordinary sensations of the physical world radiantly, causing us to hear the 'clean new music' of a voice calling down into a well, showed us the 'sloped honeycomb' of a thatched roof or the tactile wholesomeness of 'new potatoes that we picked / Loving their coolhardness in our hands' . . . Thoroughly grounded as he is in what Richard Wilbur, using a phrase from religious texts, simply and memorably called 'the things of this world,' this son of an Irish farming family offers a vision that is a powerful tonic against the fin de siecle alienation and solipsism touted by fashionable literary criticism.” —Richard Tillinghast, The New York Times Book Review

“Heaney's craftsmanship is at its most variable. There are poems that approach the sardonic leanness of those eastern European writers his essays so often celebrate. The fifth section of 'The Thimble,' for example, simply reads: 'And so on.' Elsewhere, the language may be layered extra thickly, with adjectives and nouns melding into foursomes.” —Carol Rumens, New Statesman & Society

In the Press

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... - FSG's Work in Progress

Reviews from Goodreads

About the author

Seamus Heaney

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."

Seamus Heaney

Photograph by John Minihan. Copyright of University College Cork.

Seamus Heaney

From the Publisher

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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