book cover of Opened Ground

Opened Ground

(1998)
Poems 1966-1996
A collection of poems by

 
 
For Seamus Heaney, "opened ground" is a necessity--a way of getting to the root of things. The book bearing that name spans three decades, beginning with "Digging," his exhilarating portrait of the artist as a young revolutionary. "Between my finger and my thumb / The squat pen rests; snug as a gun," Heaney boasts (although by the end of the poem, his weapon has metamorphosed into something closer to the spade his grandfather and father once relied upon). The last entry, the sonnet "Postscript," appears some 400 pages later, which makes Opened Ground a capacious selection of his work. But at this point Heaney requires the largest of hold-alls. There are beautiful, pastoral lyrics here, sequences such as "Glanmore Sonnets" and "Clearances," and a multitude of love poems, not solely to his wife but to his parents and children. And in Heaney's hands, small domestic moments and objects--a scrabble board, a swing, a kite, a bed sawn in half to get it downstairs--invariably become both reality and soaring myth.

At the same time, his Ireland is the site of "neighborly murders," and the past and larger world he confronts is one threatened by history and brutal sectarianism. Heaney has declared, "Fear is the emotion that the muse thrives on. That's always there"--and terror is pervasive in his "land of password, handgrip, wink and nod, / Of open minds as open as a trap." Many of his poems that explore the Troubles reflect his own considerable concern that he has long "confused evasion and artistic tact." Others might be termed self-reflexive, since Heaney uses them to unearth his own role. "Kinship" features a simple, brilliant (not to mention canine!) simile:
I step through origins
like a dog turning
its memories of wilderness
on the kitchen mat.
In a later poem, "From the Frontier of Writing," he compares the struggle for inspiration to being stopped at a roadblock: "And everything is pure interrogation / until a rifle motions you and you move / with guarded unconcerned acceleration." Heaney's gift is dazzling, and would be almost unbearable were it not matched by vigilance, self-doubt, and regret--and his longing for the day in which "justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme." --Kerry Fried



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Used availability for Seamus Heaney's Opened Ground

Hardback Editions

November 2013 : UK Hardback
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Title: Opened Ground
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-571-31309-4 / 978-0-571-31309-9 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon AU   


October 1998 : UK Hardback

Title: Opened Ground: Poems, 1966-96
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-571-19766-3 / 978-0-571-19766-8 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


September 1998 : UK Hardback
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Title: Opened Ground: Poems, 1966-96
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-571-19492-3 / 978-0-571-19492-6 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber and Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


November 1998 : USA Hardback
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Title: Opened Ground
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-374-23517-1 / 978-0-374-23517-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus & Giroux Inc
Availability: Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Paperback Editions

January 2002 : UK Paperback
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Title: Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-571-19493-1 / 978-0-571-19493-3 (UK edition)
Publisher: Faber & Faber
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU   


October 1999 : USA Paperback
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Title: Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
ISBN: 0-374-52678-8 / 978-0-374-52678-8 (USA edition)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   


Kindle Editions

January 2014 : USA Kindle edition
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Title: Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
Author(s): Seamus Heaney
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Availability: Amazon