Seamus Heaney: Beyond the ‘Dialect of the Tribe’

David‐Antoine Williams

in Defending Poetry

Published in print September 2010 | ISBN: 9780199583546
Published online May 2011 | e-ISBN: 9780191595295 | DOI:

Series: Oxford English Monographs

Seamus Heaney: Beyond the ‘Dialect of the Tribe’

Show Summary Details


Chapter 3 begins by assessing Heaney's intellectual debts to Eliot's ideas of ‘poetic integrity’ and ‘auditory imagination’, especially as they inform his prose elaboration of the idea of poetic ‘redress’. If Eliot valued poetry as acting simultaneously as a guarantor of local culture and as a bridge between and among cultures, Heaney can be said to enact this duality dichotomously. This chapter traces his progression from an insular to an expansive, allusive poetics, characterizing each stage, as well as the impulse towards change, as fundamentally ethical, both in practice and upon self‐reflection. Through allusion, translation, retelling, and versioning, Heaney's late incorporative poetry takes in the gamut of writing in Europe from the earliest times to the present. In doing so, Heaney understands himself to be preserving and renewing those possessions of culture that have meant something in their own time, allowing us to keep hold on to ‘ourselves as creatures of culture’.

Keywords: Heaney; Eliot; Brodsky; Troubles; redress; integrity; authority; culture; tradition; translation; auditory imagination

Chapter.  24436 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (Poetry and Poets)

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

Buy this work at Oxford University Press »

Users without a subscription are not able to see the full content. Please, subscribe or login to access all content.