Journal Article

Seamus Heaney's Religious Redress

Duc Dau

in Literature and Theology

Volume 17, issue 1, pages 32-43
Published in print March 2003 | ISSN: 0269-1205
Published online March 2003 | e-ISSN: 1477-4623 | DOI:
Seamus Heaney's Religious Redress

More Like This

Show all results sharing these subjects:

  • Literature
  • Religion and Art, Literature, and Music


Show Summary Details


For Seamus Heaney, as it is for many who originate from Northern Ireland, religion is closely allied to politics. Heaney's religious ideals, however, extend beyond the divisiveness of sectarianism, and stem from the desire for unity, balance and redress. He finds these religious and social ideals voiced by Simone Weil, the religious writer and social activist. The religious nature of Heaney's early poems originates in part from his regard for the landscape as a sacramental book that offers an alternative reality beyond the covert level of meaning. By naming or renaming a place, one has written or rewritten one's meanings onto it, endowing it with an alternative reality. Hence, the first task of historical redress is to recover the poet's alternative or Celtic heritage beneath the Anglicisation of placenames. The second task, which balances and interrogates the first, is to seek out the linguistic heritage shared by the Celts and their British colonisers. Heaney's etymological endeavours, therefore, work to uncover and unite the different and yet interrelated cultural identities of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Likewise, his desire for equilibrium enables him to reread and interrogate the wounded text‐bodies of sectarian ‘martyrs’, thereby challenging their apotheosis. He compares the poet to a medieval poet‐scribe whose function was to negotiate between two differing visions of reality, the ‘pagan’ and the Christian. Similarly, he believes the present‐day poet may offer the middle way of peace and redress.

Journal Article.  0 words. 

Subjects: Literature ; Religion and Art, Literature, and Music

Full text: subscription required

How to subscribe Recommend to my Librarian

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