“where the night snows stars and the earth creaks”

Great PoetsSinéad at Sigla Blog noted the start of the Guardian’s series on Great Poets but I thought I’d wait until they were available online. And they almost all are – We’ve already had TS Eliot, WH Auden, Sylvia Plath, Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes [one of my favourites], and today Seamus Heaney. Siegfried Sassoon is the last one with tomorrow’s paper. [Adds Now also online] Nick Wroe introduces the seven-part series here. The booklets are a bonus, as was the audio CD in the weekend paper – you can find some of those recordings at The Poetry Archive. Last words, for now, from John Banville’s introduction to the Heaney booklet

Heaney’s commitment to life beyond the study door is unusual for a poet, and all the more admirable for that. What he would have us hearken to most closely is not the song the verse-maker spins inside his own head, but the common world’s melody, “the music of what happens”, as he writes in the poem Song. At the close of his Nobel address he spoke of “poetry’s power to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry’s credit”: “the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable, in so far as they, too, are an earnest of our veritable human being.”

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  • Gum

    No Yeats? Probably the greatest European poet of the century overlooked.

  • Fraggle

    Name, lay off the Kool-Aid.

    Peter didn’t decide that poets to put in the Guardian’s series.

  • Dewi

    Thanks Pete – will pop out to get Guardian in mo. Best of series – I think Indie did something similar last week – nice booklet of Robbie Burns.

  • Garibaldy

    Is Sylvia Plath there only on political correctness grounds?

  • Pete, the booklets are really nice. A good selection of poems and the intros are worth (particularly Margaret Drabble on Plath and Banville on Heaney). Planning to give the CD a spin later on too.

  • Pete Baker

    Sinéad, the booklets are very nice indeed, as is the CD, and I particularly like the intro to Hughes by Winterson.

    Still hoping to find a recording of Hughes reading “Wind” though..