This Strange Loneliness: Heaney's Wordsworth
This Strange Loneliness is the first comprehensive account of the poetic relationship between Seamus Heaney and William Wordsworth. Peter Mackay explores how Heaney repeatedly turns to the Romantic poet's work for inspiration, corroboration, and amplification, and as a model for the fortifying power of poetry itself, which offers the fundamental lesson that "it is on this earth 'we find our happiness, or not at all.'"
Through an in-depth look at archival materials, and at uncollected poems and prose by Heaney, Mackay traces the evolution of Heaney's readings of Wordsworth throughout his career, revealing their shared interest in the connections between poetry and education, the possibility of a beneficial understanding of poetic influence, the complexities of place and displacement, ideas of transcendence, and ultimately the importance of "late style": later poems by Wordsworth might prove a cautionary tale, as well as example, for any poet. Placing Heaney's readings within their political, historical, and poetic contexts the book also explores how he negotiated the complex relationship between Irish and British culture and identity to claim a persistent form of kinship, and forge a strange community, with the Romantic poet.
With illuminating readings that reveal new contexts to and currents in Heaney's work, This Strange Loneliness is a powerful evocation of the Irish poet's sense of the "uplift" that poetry can provide.
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