Open Ground by Seamus Heaney (Short Review)

Low and behold: poetry! From my previous post regarding poetry you, my precious reader, already knows my distaste for such a concept. Yet since this is another tome from my time in university English classes it is impermissible to ignore the time spent with this admirably thought provoking text. Unlike Savageau’s short book which is filled with history yet easy to read, Heany’s book the exact opposite: rich in history, yet very dense. This is because the poems themselves have a historical component; infused with references to Irish life, history, tradition, conflict, and culture, no poem can be read merely as what it appears to be on the surface. Every word is precious and as it has a specific meaning within a specific context, without understanding the meaning of that word and how it relates to the Irish context which the author is alluding to, even a surface reading will be strenuous. The tone of the poems are usually dark: bog bodies, passing armored checkpoints, friends murdered in the night, the rigors of growing up in a stratified society and more are all present. Make no mistake, this isn’t a collection of poetry liable to put a smile on anyone’s face. But if you are a fan of poetry with the Irish twist, then the fact that Opened Ground collects Heany’s poetry from 1966-1996 might just put a smile on your face. It didn’t mine but I guess I am just a sour puss.

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