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Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
Electric Light

Electric Light


Seamus Heaney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux


A powerful new collection by the bestselling translator of Beowulf.

In the finland of perch, the fenland of alder, on air

That is water, on carpets of Bann stream, on hold
In the everything flows and steady go of the world.
--from "Perch"

Seamus Heaney's new collection travels widely in time and space, visiting the sites of the classical world and revisiting the poet's childhood: rural electrification and the light of ancient evenings are reconciled within the orbit of a single lifetime. This is a book about origins (not least, the origins of words) and oracles: the places where things start from, the ground of understanding -- whether in Arcadia or Anahorish, the sanctuary at Epidaurus or the Bann valley in County Derry.

Electric Light ranges from short takes to conversation poems. The pre-Socratic wisdom that everything flows is held in tension with the elegizing of friends and fellow poets. These gifts of recollection renew the poet's calling to assign things their proper names; once again Heaney can be heard extending his word hoard and roll call in this, his eleventh collection.

Nobel Prize For Literature, Nobel Prize in Literature

Praise for Electric Light

“The consciously late work of a master poet meditating on the origins and inevitable ending of his life and art . . . The 62-year-old poet's awareness of his aging . . . gives the collection special coherence and poignance.” —Langdon Hammer, The New York Times Book Review

“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

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

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."

image of Seamus Heaneyo
Photograph by John Minihan. Copyright of University College Cork.

Read Author Bio at Britannica

Read Author Bio at Nobel Prize

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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