"Between my fingers and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."
Selected Poems 1966–1987 assembles the groundbreaking work of the first half of Seamus Heaney's extraordinary career. This edition, arranged by the author himself, includes the seminal early poetry that struck readers with the force of revelation and heralded the arrival of an heir to Gerard Manley Hopkins, W. B. Yeats, and Robert Frost.
Helen Vendler called Heaney "a poet of the in-between," and the work collected here dwells in the borderlands dividing the ancient and the contemporary, the mythic and the quotidian. Gathering poetry from his first seven collections, Selected Poems 1966-1987 presents the young man from County Derry, Northern Ireland, who "emerged from a hidden, a buried life" in Death of a Naturalist (1966), with his cherished poems "Digging" and "Mid-term Break"; the poet of conscience "as bleak as he is bright" in "Whatever You Say Say Nothing" and "Singing School"; and the astonishingly gifted, mature craftsman behind Field Work (1979) and Station Island (1984)—an artist uncannily attuned to the "music of what happens," restlessly searching "for images and symbols adequate to our predicament."
This volume, together with its companion Selected Poems 1988–2013, allows us to revisit the essential work of one of the great writers of our age through his own compilation.