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How good is Heaney?

Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney is adored by the British literary establishment. His old-fashioned lyric voice is bland, self-important, and ignores the modernist revolution

By Antony Easthope   March 1998

It has not mattered much that England has produced little in the way of painting and music; we could always claim one indisputably world class author in both drama and poetry.

In the post-modern England of the 1980s real poets of nature were hard to find. But one was discovered in rural Ireland; capable of such reassuringly agricultural titles as Wintering Out, Field Work and The Haw Lantern. Seamus Heaney’s pastoralism could also claim to be political. He deplored the violence of the troubles and expressed muted sympathy with the catholics in Northern Ireland. He could sound serious and important…

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