Fallout from the Thunder: Poetry and Politics in Seamus Heaney’s "District and Circle"

Parker, Michael (2008) Fallout from the Thunder: Poetry and Politics in Seamus Heaney’s "District and Circle". Irish Studies Review, 16 (4). pp. 369-384. ISSN 0967-0882

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Official URL: http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/09670880802481213


This article examines Heaney's preoccupation in District and Circle (2006) with international political events during this ‘new age of anxiety’, and how he initially approaches these circuitously through a return to originary, boyhood experiences. Such momentous acts as the attacks of 9/ll, the ‘War on Terror’ and the London bombings are filtered through, juxtaposed with and illuminated by episodes both from the ancient past and Heaney's family history. In attendance, as always, throughout the latest volume is the poet's diverse literary ancestry, a reminder of how his work exemplifies core claims made in ‘Tradition and the Individual Talent’ (1919), where Eliot argues that ‘what makes the writer most acutely conscious of his own place in time’ is ‘the historical sense’, ‘a feeling for the whole of literature’ from Homer onwards. Thus, alongside its detailed address to politics and such crucial literary matters as structure, form and metaphor, the essay repeatedly returns to the intertextual ‘presences’ which haunt and animate Heaney's continuing creative project.

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