Macmillan Childrens Publishing Group
The Government of the Tongue

The Government of the Tongue

Selected Prose, 1978-1987

Seamus Heaney

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

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In his volume of critical essays The Government of the Tongue, Seamus Heaney scrutinizes the poetry of many masterful poets. Throughout the collection, Heaney's gifts as a wise and genial reader are exercised with characteristic exactness, and we are reminded, 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 witnessvoicing solidarity with the doomed, the victimized, the dispossessed. Irish poet Heaney here gauges this trend in essays on Wilfred Owen, Osip Mandelstam, Zbigniew Herbert. He admits that the power of the poem to change the world is almost nil. Then, turning to T. S. Eliot's 'The 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 unacknowledged legislators of the world.” —Publishers Weekly

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

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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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