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Seamus Heaney – A Shiver  (Clutag Press, 2005)

Published: Summer/Fall   

CONTENTS: nine new poems: ‘Hö’fn’, ‘Horace and the Thunder’, ‘Helmet’, ‘Testimony: The Ajax Incident’, ‘Testimony: Anahorish 1944’, ‘The Aerodrome’, ‘A Shiver’, ‘Out of Shot’, ‘The Tollund Man in Springtime’.

How Seamus Heaney has always held his ground, through thick and thin, is something of a miracle, like the preservation in a Danish peat-bog of the Tollund Man, now revisited in this collection (‘The Tollund Man in Springtime’) and given a clean bill of health. Here in A Shiver Heaney’s ground is reaffirmed, found and kept and a stance maintained, in lifelong love, though glaciers melt and Jupiter (after Horace, Odes I, 34) finds ground zero: ‘Anything can happen, the tallest things / Be overturned, those high places daunted, / Those overlooked regarded.’

These subtle and quietly allusive poems speak the violence of the new world order in a world itself in peril of oblivion as the polar ice-caps melt. There is sufficient blood and gore here to send a shiver down your spine, from a scene in a slaughter house, to Ajax rampaging (do not seek to identify him). In the title poem a shiver is sent up the shaft of a sledge-hammer, in a paradoxical celebration of creative power, ‘witholdable at will’, capable of making ‘air of a wall’. Martial code words infiltrate these poems, like shields in a ‘testudo’, or cleaved to the helmet of an Irish-American fireman-poet called BREEN. The Americans are on the march too, though at a discreet distance, in 1944, bound for Normandy. The nine powerful (and power-full) poems that constitute A Shiver signal the onset of a new campaign, as Heaney in age, enters the fray again.

24pp 170mm x 240mm  ISBN 0-9547275-4-1

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