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This review is taken from PN Review 75, Volume 17 Number 1, September - October 1990.

SOURCES AND SOUNDINGS Seamus Heaney, New Selected Poems 1966-1987 (Faber) £11.99, £4.99 pb.

Faced with this very good selection from over twenty years of writing, the reviewer can do little more than suggest that everybody who cares for English poetry should - if they are not among those who have followed Heaney in his progress from promising young poet to one of the most important poets of our time - read this book. The word 'progress', though, may suggest at the same time that development of which the writers of blurbs like to speak, a movement from origins and a 'rich naturalism', through the more 'political' poetry of Wintering Out and North, the 'retirement' into the domestic of Field Work, the questionings of Station Island, to arrival in the kingdom of 'neuter allegiance' that is celebrated in Sweeney Redivivus and The Haw Lantern; and perhaps this New Selected Poems (which includes six of the prose-pieces entitled Stations, published as a pamphlet in 1975 and not printed since) makes a little too clear this 'progress', this 'development', which is obviously important to the poet himself, who more than most is engaged in a constant reappraisal and reinterpretation of his poetic journey.

One wonders, though, whether this journey is not less linear than a cleaving to particular themes that are circled and explored, now from one direction, now from another, but that are never completely mapped - like the wood in 'The Plantation' (from Door into the Dark and not included in this selection) where any point has 'a centre'. One notices, ...


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