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The Redress of Poetry

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The Nobel laureate shares his thoughts on poetry's special ability to rectify spiritual balance as a counterweight to hostile and oppressive forces, in a collection of ten lectures on the work of such diverse poets as Christopher Marlowe, John Clare, Oscar Wilde, and Elizabeth Bishop.


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The Nobel laureate shares his thoughts on poetry's special ability to rectify spiritual balance as a counterweight to hostile and oppressive forces, in a collection of ten lectures on the work of such diverse poets as Christopher Marlowe, John Clare, Oscar Wilde, and Elizabeth Bishop.

30 review for The Redress of Poetry

  1. 4 out of 5

    Ryan

    This might seem an odd choice: a collection of lectures about poetry, some of them to an Oxford audience. Sounds stuffy as can be - but it isn't. Wherever they were first heard, each lecture was written to be understood by anyone, and send them back to the works they cover. The best piece, and perhaps the book's moral quaystone, is titled 'Joy or Night', comparing and contrasting Yeats and Larkin, their views on death and its influence on their poetry (and far more than that). Other joys include This might seem an odd choice: a collection of lectures about poetry, some of them to an Oxford audience. Sounds stuffy as can be - but it isn't. Wherever they were first heard, each lecture was written to be understood by anyone, and send them back to the works they cover. The best piece, and perhaps the book's moral quaystone, is titled 'Joy or Night', comparing and contrasting Yeats and Larkin, their views on death and its influence on their poetry (and far more than that). Other joys include 'John Clare's Prog' - about the rightful place of the vernacular in poetry - and 'Dylan the Durable'. Heaney never preaches; he is not dogmatic, and his enthusiasm is infectious. Few readers will finish these lectures without emerging a little wiser than when they started.

  2. 4 out of 5

    Sobia

    "The poet is a liar who always speaks the truth." ❤

  3. 4 out of 5

    Francisca

    *3.5*

  4. 5 out of 5

    Kathleen

    I am a few weeks into a course reading the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, using his collection "Opened Ground," taught by one of my beloved mentors. I decided to reread this collection of lectures he gave during his tenure as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, 1989 - 1994, which sent me tumbling back to my undergraduate days as an English major, analyzing Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth Bishop, George Herbert, Philip Larkin, W.B.Yeats and so many more. Heaney, a farmer's son and product of a private, clas I am a few weeks into a course reading the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney, using his collection "Opened Ground," taught by one of my beloved mentors. I decided to reread this collection of lectures he gave during his tenure as Professor of Poetry at Oxford, 1989 - 1994, which sent me tumbling back to my undergraduate days as an English major, analyzing Christopher Marlowe, Elizabeth Bishop, George Herbert, Philip Larkin, W.B.Yeats and so many more. Heaney, a farmer's son and product of a private, classical education, became a public poet because of the turbulent times in which he lived in Ireland. These lectures, while teasing out important and perhaps forgotten/misunderstood meaning, include thoughts to ponder in these first decades of the 21st century: "The poem, in fact, is a showing forth of the way that poetry brings human existence into a fuller life."... "Poetry's existence as a form of art relates to our existence as citizens of society - how it is of 'present use.'"..."Poetry, let us say, whether it belongs to an old political dispensation or aspires to express a new one, has to be a working model of inclusive consciousness."..."I want to profess the surprise of poetry as well as its reliability; I want to celebrate its given, unforeseeable thereness, the way it enters our field of vision and animates our physical and intelligent being..." A poet who evolved over decades of writing, whose poems I never tire of reading, Seamus Heaney, in this series of lectures, reveals himself as a brilliant academic as well.

  5. 4 out of 5

    Toby

    An excellent series of lectures given by Seamus Heaney in his post as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. The ability for a reader to engage with Heaney's erudition will depend on the extent to which he or she knows of the poems and poets being discussed. Heaney deliberately focusses on poets who are writing on the frontiers of their societies - those frontiers being national, class and linguistic. The first lecture is really quite superb and sets the tone well. After that his lectures on t An excellent series of lectures given by Seamus Heaney in his post as Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. The ability for a reader to engage with Heaney's erudition will depend on the extent to which he or she knows of the poems and poets being discussed. Heaney deliberately focusses on poets who are writing on the frontiers of their societies - those frontiers being national, class and linguistic. The first lecture is really quite superb and sets the tone well. After that his lectures on the poets I knew well (Larkin, Clare, Bishop and Thomas) as well as his discussion of the Ballad of Reading Gaol were the ones that I enjoyed most. I have never heard of Brian Merriman, and Hugh MacDiarmid sits unread on my shelf, courtesy of marrying a Scottish literature graduate. Nevertheless, Heaney's wit, grace, humility and humour carry the day even in those areas of poetic knowledge where my ignorance is overwhelming.

  6. 4 out of 5

    Paul

    What a lovely, deep appreciation of poets and poetry by this master of the art! I learned so much about how this is done, and what matters the most about the doing and what results from the work....truly enlightening - loved the lectures!

  7. 5 out of 5

    Gautam Bhatia

    In Seamus Heaney’s Casualty, a poem about a pub-going Ulsterman who ignores a curfew during the peak of the Troubles, and is killed for it, the last three lines (the poet speaking to the dead man, the “casualty”), are a study in ambivalence: “Dawn-sniffing revenant, Plodder through midnight rain, Question me again.” The ambivalence is one that runs through Heaney’s poetry, perhaps best exemplified by the section in Station Island, where (in a fictional meeting), James Joyce tells the poet to “let In Seamus Heaney’s Casualty, a poem about a pub-going Ulsterman who ignores a curfew during the peak of the Troubles, and is killed for it, the last three lines (the poet speaking to the dead man, the “casualty”), are a study in ambivalence: “Dawn-sniffing revenant, Plodder through midnight rain, Question me again.” The ambivalence is one that runs through Heaney’s poetry, perhaps best exemplified by the section in Station Island, where (in a fictional meeting), James Joyce tells the poet to “let others wear the sackcloth and the ashes. / Let go, let fly, forget. You’ve listened long enough. Now strike your note.” The ambivalence is about the relationship between poetry and politics, instantiated by the tension between the desire to keep words apolitical, and the temptation to intervene directly through poetry. If such questions remain unanswered in Heaney’s verse, then The Redress of Poetry – a collection of ten lectures delivered at Oxford – gives him a chance to answer them in prose. Eight out of the ten lectures are about other poets – Christopher Marlowe, Brian Merriman, John Clare, Oscar Wilde, Hugh McDiarmid, Dylan Thomas, W.B. Yeats and Philip Larkin, and Elizabeth Bishop. It is in and through writing about these poets, however, that Heaney painstakingly constructs his own poetic manifesto, dealing with the relationship between words, culture, politics, and the world. (Complete review here: https://anenduringromantic.wordpress....)

  8. 4 out of 5

    Brian

    This is a collection of lectures that Heaney gave while professor of poetry at Oxford. The theme, redress as a potential function of poetry, is handled with depth and breadth, including working in the relationship, political and cultural, between Ireland and England. Several definitions of "redress" are pursued, which results in a sense of poetry that unites the imaginative with social conscience.

  9. 4 out of 5

    Omri

    I've bought this amazing book on my trip to Poland, on 2009. I found it in the most amazing bookstore I've ever been to in my entire life, called Massolit Books & Cafe, fell in love with the place immediately. This book is a collection of lectures regarding Irish Poets and Poetry, and it is so in depth and interesting that there were chapters I couldn't stop reading. Simply fascinating. I've bought this amazing book on my trip to Poland, on 2009. I found it in the most amazing bookstore I've ever been to in my entire life, called Massolit Books & Cafe, fell in love with the place immediately. This book is a collection of lectures regarding Irish Poets and Poetry, and it is so in depth and interesting that there were chapters I couldn't stop reading. Simply fascinating.

  10. 4 out of 5

    Abby

    Poetry "is the imagination pressing back against the pressure of reality." Most enjoyed the titular essay and the pieces on Yeats and Larkin, Bishop (her "flicker of impudence"), and "Frontiers of Writing." I feel like I do not connect as naturally with Heaney as I do with other modern greats, and so I always feel that I must try harder.

  11. 5 out of 5

    Liz

    A great book to dip in and out of...love the analysis aspects as not so overly-academic as to make you switch off...I am reading the lecture on 'The Ballad of Reading Gaol' and it really zones in on aspects of Oscar Wilde that give a different type of insight and makes for really addictive reading.

  12. 4 out of 5

    Kim

    One of my favorite reads possibly ever. Can't be read lightly. Had to sit with chapters/essays in doses because there was so much to take in. I will reread this book many times, and suspect I'll be learning something new from it with every read. Cannot recommend this book highly enough.

  13. 4 out of 5

    Monique

    "The felicity of cadence, the chain reaction of a rhyme, the auto-eroticism of an etymology, such things can proceed happily and, as it were, autistically in an area of operations cordoned-off by and from the critical sense." p. 6

  14. 5 out of 5

    Susannah

    I have a feeling I will be re-reading this book frequently in the coming years. It felt like meeting an old friend for the first time, and walking away with the knowledge that further acquaintance will only serve to deepen my regard.

  15. 4 out of 5

    John Ward

    An excellent collection of insightful essays. You're always grateful when a book expands your horizons and introduces you to new writers that you enjoy, as Heaney did for me here with his fine piece on Elizabeth Bishop 'Counting to a Hundred'.

  16. 4 out of 5

    Sabne Raznik

    Insightful. Heaney was a master (and that's an understatement).

  17. 4 out of 5

    Christopher

    An excellent set of essays on the nature and demands of poetry, as well as its responsibilities. His defense of the need for poetry as a means of understanding our world was excellent.

  18. 5 out of 5

    Sherry Chandler

    I thoroughly enjoyed these lectures on the redress of poetry. Heaney writes a charming prose and his thinking on the way poets try to right the balance is still fresh.

  19. 4 out of 5

    Charlotte

    I don't know why it says this book is by "anonymous" when it is clearly by seamus heaney. weird.

  20. 4 out of 5

    John

    Graceful, elegant, vigorous apology. Why poetry? Here is an answer. Sure-footed homecomings, indeed!

  21. 5 out of 5

    Sarah Harwell

  22. 5 out of 5

    Gerrit

  23. 4 out of 5

    Aafaq Ahmed

  24. 5 out of 5

    Kristin

  25. 4 out of 5

    Joe

  26. 4 out of 5

    James Cain

  27. 4 out of 5

    Anthony Paticchio

  28. 4 out of 5

    Blake Bertuccelli

  29. 5 out of 5

    Suzanne

  30. 4 out of 5

    Elizabeth

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