Human Chain

Human Chain A new collection of poems from Nobel Prize winning writer Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities between husband and wife child and parent then and now

  • Title: Human Chain
  • Author: Seamus Heaney
  • ISBN: 9780571275557
  • Page: 340
  • Format: Paperback
  • A new collection of poems from Nobel Prize winning writer Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered Human Chain also broachesA new collection of poems from Nobel Prize winning writer Seamus Heaney Seamus Heaney s new collection elicits continuities and solidarities, between husband and wife, child and parent, then and now, inside an intently remembered present the stepping stones of the day, the weight and heft of what is passed from hand to hand, lifted and lowered Human Chain also broaches larger questions of transmission, as lifelines to the inherited past There are newly minted versions of anonymous early Irish lyrics, poems which stand at the crossroads of oral and written, and other hermit songs which weigh equally in their balance the craft of scribe and the poet s early calling as scholar A remarkable sequence entitled Route 110 plots the descent into the underworld in the Aeneid against single moments in the arc of a life, from a 1950s adolescence to the birth of the poet s first grandchild Other poems display a Virgilian pietas for the dead friends, neighbours and family which is yet wholly and movingly vernacular Human Chain is Seamus Heaney s twelfth collection of poems.

    One thought on “Human Chain”

    1. I found this book hidden in my filing cabinet in school today, and remembered that I had taught the title poem last year to explain how context matters to understand a situation. What a nice Friday afternoon surprise to discover it again (and restore it for my private library). It is a noble Nobel representative for poetry, and also a very good book to read on packed commuter trains! It makes you feel less irritable, as the atmosphere enhances the poetry.I love the title poem, Human Chain! Howev [...]

    2. The linking of life runs throughout this collection of poems; the chain of humanity identified and the individuals longing to be a link in that chain is forged through the beautiful poems in this collection.

    3. I very much enjoyed reading Heaney's descriptions which led me to images which brought up emotions. (No, this isn't a philosophical discussion of language.). Most of the poems in this book worked extremely well for me in this sense. Unfortunately, or not, I can't go into detail because the book has utterly disappeared. It is somewhere in this room, lost in a pile perhaps, continuing to put forth its images to no one.

    4. Heaney’s poems in this latest volume of his work are mostly short and spare, yet they are nonetheless rich, personal, and evocative. Returning to his work after an absence seems like coming home, the sense that he is familiar even as he is fresh, the sense that his small life experiences resonate with my own, even when they are not identical.“Had I Not Been Awake” is all about awareness, alertness to what is, in this moment. And that makes all the difference. The pattering of leaves, the p [...]

    5. Seamus Heaney's human chain is busy with the connections of family relationships and acquaintances reaching into the past, alive with the tingle personal recollection gives them. These are poems about the chain of being and about how we're all linked. Almost all of them recall a family member or someone Heaney has known. Frequently they're identified by name. These poems aren't particularly lyrical, and that, plus the reader's unfamiliarity with the poet's personal association, lends them an ext [...]

    6. I'm not even going to think about calling this a review of Seamus Heaney's latest collection of poems, Human Chain It would be incredibly presumptuous on my part to even suggest that I'm going to "evaluate" his work (of course, normally I'm always presumptuous in terms of reviewing!). Instead, I'm going to just relay a few points that I love about this amazing poet, and why you should read him if you haven't already. For one thing, his writing style is so straightforward and concise. It's not fl [...]

    7. Just exquisite. Just lovely. Poems about lost family and mortality, made more poignant by Heaney's recent death, so that the fore-shadowing bites harder. Lots of Irish Gaelic, echoes of the language of his homeland, but such music!

    8. I am awe-struck in the presence of such great poetry written by such a masterful wielder of words. The literal and figurative chains in this book are multifarious: metal links, plant fibers, threaded stitches, hands held in other hands, the living lifting the dying, work assembly lines, pens & pencils, hyphenated word-loads, languages joined through translation, loops of recorded sound As well as personal life enacted, remembered, forgotten, exhumed, re-imagined As well as books themselves [...]

    9. Though I'd probably put it a rank below his very best work, I have no hesitation in saying that I enjoyed 'Human Chain' more than any Heaney collection since 'The Haw Lantern'. Typically layered, richly allusive and ripe with snatched memories, held connections and a deep sense of mortality, it's a beautiful closing chapter to what has been a magnificent story. Reading these poems aloud - a few of which surely stand with the finest he's written - they seem to move the air, and his relentlessly r [...]

    10. Highlights: Miracle, The Wood Road, Derry Derry Down, Slack, Death of a Painter, The Door Was Open and the House Was Dark

    11. Some marvelous poems in this his last collection. Immensely sad, direct. and full of recollection and light memories. Delightful music and word play as he recalls friends now gone. He is is equally non-sparing about himself as he writes about his ambulance ride to the hospital after his stroke. Among other lines that we older readers will not forget, until we do, 'As the memorable bottoms out / Into the irretrievable.'His wide cultural references are wonderful in broadening otherwise very person [...]

    12. I should tell you that I ran across Seamus Heaney in my 20s in the late seventies when I was living in Los Angeles. I discovered a poem published in a mainstream woman's magazine about 'the troubles'. I fell in love with his poetic voice instantly. I suppose it would not be an exaggeration to say, I very firmly placed him upon a lofty pedestal.This latest book of poetry has the same mastery of language, the same lyrical quality, but it made me quite sad. I feel older after having read these poem [...]

    13. I picked this up in the library and read it in one sitting. The preface was intriguing and many of the poems are written in memory of someone, often listed at the beginning of the poem in lower case italics, i.m; Name in an understated, unobtrusive way, as to make them this collection, which seems deeply personal and evocative, almost as if it were the collection of things you said you'd get around to one day, and then here they are, the memory of those people who now no longer are, but traces o [...]

    14. Heaney always gives a lot in his bracing, spare and language-rich lines, and this collection, an earthy and yet somehow tender encounter with mortality, is no different. But I found this collection's second half stronger than its first, except for the opening short and dramatic "Had I not been awake." For me the best in the collection -- and in some ways Heaney at his best -- were "Slack," "A Herbal," "Route 110," "Wraiths" and "In the Attic," while "Hermit Songs" and its breathtaking, beautiful [...]

    15. The other day I heard a dramatic reading of Lewis Carroll's Jabberwocky on the radio. Obviously I was stuck by how a word that has no literal meaning can still make perfect sense, as long as the poem as a whole works. I do not understand much of the culture, or some of the language, out of which Heaney wrote, but the poems in Human chain make such perfect sense that I feel I have an understanding where my knowledge is absent.Can we ask any more of a poet than this?

    16. A late collection with Virgilian undertones, particularly Book VI, which he seems to have been working on or pondering during much of the period of composition of this collection. Images of Aeneas' descent to the underworld pop up in unexpected places. His attempt to embrace the shade of his father Anchises is inserted into a reverie about saying goodbye to one of his own relatives on the threshold of life, health and sickness, death. The same nostalgic sense of futility and resignation (that ac [...]

    17. I love the way Heaney uses simple language and makes it sing, and he does that here as well as he does it anywhere. His words carry tremendous authority and power. The book is so readable, but the poetry doesn't feel light. If I have one critique, it's that I wish he was a little less referential. So often, Dante or Virgil or someone will appear, and though I know this is true to Heaney's life and experience, I can't help but feel it becomes a way of propping the poems up with genius, but there' [...]

    18. Human Chain, by Seamus Heaney, 2010. This book from Heaney, a truly great poet, is his last book of poems. Some of the first poems in it – “Had I not been awake”, “Album”, and “Uncoupled”, are alive with Heaney-esque images and insights. Each time I’ve read the first of these, I have gotten more out of it. But many of the poems are so filled with personal references (people he knew, place names) and literary references in four languages that it’s a struggle to get Heaney’s me [...]

    19. But I liked his poems on death the most.The Door Was Open and the House Was Darkin memory of David HammondThe door was open and the house was darkWherefore I called his name, although I knewThe answer this time would be silenceThat kept me standing listening while it grewBackwards and down and out into the streetWhere as I'd entered (I remember now)The streetlamps too were out.I felt, for the first time there and then, a stranger,Intruder almost, wanting to take flightYet well aware that here th [...]

    20. There are a few contemporary Poets that I'm fairly familiar with and have great affection for: Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Dana Gioia, Billy Collins, and Seamus Heaney. I find each of them radically different. Ferlinghetti's combination of high modernism and Beat sensibility, Gioia's new formalism, Collins's playfulness and humor, and finally Heaney's remarkable, remarkable voice. Of all of them, Heaney makes language sing. This collection isn't the best collection of his work I've read, but it was, [...]

    21. What? I'm going to give a Seamus Heaney poetry collection less than four stars? I don't think so.Seriously though, the fact is a lot of Heaney's references are lost on me (providing yet another instance of the book being smarter than the reader). That said (and much like Shakespeare), hearing Heaney's poems read aloud often adds clues to meaning that don't come through in silent reading. Plus, who among us isn't enchanted by a lilting Irish brogue?So, without further adieu, here's the poet readi [...]

    22. Re-reading this, for the first time since Heaney's death, was a strange experience: ever-conscious that there was no more work to come, I found myself slowing down, not wanting it to end. But of course everything must.All the Heaney trademarks are here for me: the perfect weight of words, the telling details, the parallels and changing angles of vision that bring a new perspective. And always, here, the sense that in his post-stroke condition he was taking stock, aware of the dark coming in. The [...]

    23. A sad day in Ireland and other parts of the globe where poetry thrives when Seamus Heaney died. He is a master of immediacy, of enabling the reader to see and feel and hear and taste. In Human Chain, Heaney is in the shadow of a stroke he endured, an intimation of mortality that got him musing about a fading past and a diminishing future. This is how "In the Attic" ends:As I age and blank on names,As my uncertainty on stairsIs more and more the light-headednessOf a cabin boy's first time on the [...]

    24. There is no adoration that I can provide for Mr. Heaney that has not already been given in ways that are a thousand fold more articulate. I know that this sounds maudlin - Human Chain is a collection of poetry that once again makes me feel honored to have even lived at a time when Mr. Heaney has graced us. These poems are no less sublime than others he has penned, only this collection has a sense of loss and melancholy that did not exist in his prior collection, District Circle. I will always re [...]

    25. As with Heaney's preceding collection, the poems for some reason are ordered by difficulty. It's awkward and really doesn't add anything to the poems.The earlier poems nearly all deal with Heaney's stroke, the later poems are mostly commissions and dedications to deceased people.There's also one section of "found prose" that really adds nothing. Also, what is "found prose?" Is it found poetry but with prose? Nothing he writes in this section offers up an explanation. They just seem like short pa [...]

    26. Seamus Heaney is simply amazing and a pleasure to read. His control and use of language is admirable and touching. Heaney is able to engulf the senses, eliciting emotional responses from readers.I would recommend Heaney's poetry to everyone, even those who don't have a love for poetry.

    27. Not an easy read. I read every poem side by side with detailed explanation from fawbie/category/human-chain/. To sum up, I will quote Peter MacDonald’s review of ‘Slack’ on Sunday Times, which I think is pretty much the spirit of this beautiful collection: “What gives Human Chain much of its energy is the sustained intensity of Heaney’s fixing on the resource of his own memories. Some poems are relatively familiar Heaney performances, though none the worse for that. ‘Slack’ address [...]

    28. Nothing can sum this book up better than a small selection from the poem "A Herbal" that is part of it.What was better thenThan to crush a leaf or a herbBetween your palms,Then wave it slowly, soothinglyPast your mouth and noseAnd breathe?*If you know a bitAbout the universeIt's because you've taken it inLike that,Looked as hardAs you look into yourself,Into the rat hole,Through the vetch and dockThat mantled it.Because you've laid your cheekAgainst the rush clumpAnd known soft stone to breakOn [...]

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