he advises when reading Heaney's multiple articulations on the subject are commendable and a wake-up call to more casual readers. After all, the poet has by now achieved such eminence that his work can be expected to draw the same meticulous scrutiny as that to which other equally eminent writers have been subjected. Even so, Dennison's is an unusually critical--in every sense of the word--study; at times the author appears almost annoyed with the poet's intellectual errancies. His investigation legitimately finds Heaney's defense of poetry as an adequate replacement for religion to, in fact, be itself inadequate, but the author's "dissenting, theological, and confessing" assertions of religious belief-- his book is "Soli Deo Gloria"; Heaney's pronouncements are in the tradition of "a cultural transcendentalism predicated on the refusal of Christian orthodoxy"; the Incarnation, "marvelous and actual, is the ground of Heaney's pure verb" even if the poet did not recognize it as such--do not have the sophistication, or undergo the same scrutiny, as the rest of the narrative. Neither is Dennison especially alert to the nuances of Heaney's late responses to a believing Czeslaw Milosz. The paradigm for Dennison, who is a lay Anglican chaplain at Victoria University
New Hibernia Review – Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Published: Apr 15, 2016
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