Book Reviewed: Human Chain, by Seamus Heaney
This is a little depressing for me to write, since I used to be a huge Seamus Heaney fan. For a year or so during college, before I discovered Rilke and had my mind blown, Heaney was my favorite poet. I've always loved his language and sense of place, and I adore my copy of his selected poems. When the library put his new book of poetry on order in September, I quickly put a copy on hold. And you know what? I was kind of disappointed.
To be honest, I felt mostly bored while reading this collection. The usual Heaney trademarks were there - the beautiful words and sounds, the precise lines, the descriptions of the land - but nothing here held much of a spark for me. I don't think it's necessarily Heaney's fault, as he's doing what he's always done in this book. But I've developed a different kind of taste in my poetry reading lately, going for stuff that packs more of a punch at the first reading. This year, I've been devouring Wallace Stevens and Charles Simic, who are extremely different from Heaney. I just wasn't in the right frame of mind for this new Heaney book, and I'm not sure I ever will be again.
If you like Heaney, definitely give this book a shot. There's a reason he's a Nobel laureate and the face of poetry in the late 20th century. He's still a genius. But lately, he's a genius who kind of bores me. Except for a poem here called "Wraiths," which I really loved. That one's a keeper.