Léirmheasanna: Reviews Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry, by John Dennison, pp. 245. New York: Oxford University Press, $95. John Dennison's Seamus Heaney and the Adequacy of Poetry offers a detailed and thorough examination of what the author identifies as Heaney's "prose poetics," rather than of the poetry itself: that is to say, his focus is largely on the poet's prose statements about his chosen art, his elaborate defenses of it, and his increasingly insistent claim that poetry alone offers solace and a quasisalvation in a world in which revealed religion has lost its credibility. In that sense, Heaney is in the tradition of Matthew Arnold, who famously declared that poetry would replace a Christianity that the higher criticism of the bible had brought down to earth and found factually wanting. In Dennison's view, an unbelieving Heaney goes even further, vainly striving with "missional" fervor to preserve attributes of transcendence derived from his Catholic upbringing, even as he is aware of their necessary immanence. This, then, is a book that has a tangentially religious theme. As such, it will be of interest to many outside not only the orbit of Heaney scholars, but also far beyond the
New Hibernia Review – Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
Published: Apr 15, 2016
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