The Gift and the Craft

  • Elmer Andrews


In a 1981 interview with John Haffenden, Heaney remarked ‘It’s possible to exacerbate … I believe that what poetry does to me is comforting … I think that art does appease, assuage.’1 In Field Work the poet, newly ‘landed in the hedge-school of Glanmore’, renews his commitment ‘to raise/A voice caught back off slug-horn and slow chanter/ That might continue, hold, dispel, appease’. ‘The Harvest Bow’, one of the best poems in this volume, ends by quoting Coventry Patmore, ‘The end of art is peace.’ Heaney expresses a view of poetry as secret and natural even though it must operate in a world that is public and brutal. He has found himself caught in the sectarian crossfire with fellow Catholics pressing him to write political verse and liberal critics congratulating him on not taking sides.


Symbolic Order Verbal Music Feminine Action Consonantal Music Poetic Creation 
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  1. 1.
    John Haffenden, Viewpoints: Poets in Conversation (London: Faber, 1981) p. 68.Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    Seamus Heaney, Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968–1978 (London: Faber, 1980) p. 33. Page references will hereafter be incorporated into the text, e.g. P. p.145.Google Scholar
  3. 6.
    T. S. Eliot, The Use of Poetry and the Use of Criticism (London: Faber, 1933) p. 119.Google Scholar
  4. 13.
    C. Day Lewis, ‘Poetry and Politics’ in Twentieth Century Poetry: Critical Essays and Documents, eds Graham Martin and P. N. Furbank (Milton Keynes: Open University Press, 1975) p. 178.Google Scholar
  5. 14.
    Seamus Heaney, ‘Envies and Identifications: Dante and the Modern Poet’ in Irish University Review (spring 1985) p. 14.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Elmer Andrews 1988

Authors and Affiliations

  • Elmer Andrews
    • 1
  1. 1.University of UlsterUK

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