Segments in this Video

Reciting of "Death of a Naturalist" (03:40)


Many of Heaney's poems celebrate his childhood on a Northern Ireland farm. "Seeing Things" marks a change in his poetry that parallels the societal and political changes since "Death of a Naturalist."

Heaney's Approach in Earlier Poems (03:34)

Poems in "Death of a Naturalist" reflect the sense of danger in countryside in a divided community. Heaney discusses his direct approach and recites "The Toome Road."

Reciting of "Toome" (03:39)

The angle of saying what happened is important to Heaney. Poetry gives a sense to a temperament and being true to one's temperament. "Toome" gives a depth of place and relationship.

Irish Writers of the 1960s and 1970s (02:12)

Heaney and other Northern Irish writers resist the pressure put on them. The writers act responsibly, working within the orthodoxy of the lyric and not becoming other people's mouth pieces.

Reciting of "The Strand of Lough Beg" (02:00)

Heaney writes two poems, an elegy and a long poem, about the 1975 murder of his cousin by Protestants. In tradition, an elegy resurrects the dead one.

Reciting of "from Station Island" (04:20)

Heaney discusses the premise and style of "Station Island," the dramatic poem about the murder of his cousin. In this poem the cousin accuses the poet of glossing over his brutal death.

Change in Heaney's Poetry (04:54)

The collection "Seeing Things" marks a change in Heaney's poems from a heaviness to a lightness in tone and subject matter. Heaney recites "Fosterling" and "Squarings viii."

Reciting of "Wheels Within Wheels" (02:48)

Heaney explains that "Death of a Naturalist," written 25 years earlier, is a close up and "Wheels Within Wheels" is a long shot and an acknowledgement of distance.

Heaney's Father's Influence (03:23)

Heaney's father dies in the middle of compiling "Seeing Things." Heaney sees his father more of an archetype than a parent. He recites "Man & Boy," a poem about his father.

Reciting of "Squarings xxxii" (01:55)

"Seeing Things" is a series of literary and life events, of threshold experiences, of rites of passages, and crossings. Door latches come to symbolize these crossing to Heaney.

Titling his book "Seeing Things" (03:35)

While writing poems about crossing waters, boats, and his father who almost drowned, the term "seeing things" comes to Heaney. He describes his own experience on boats and recites a poem.

"Markings" and "Field of Vision" (04:09)

Heaney discusses how "Markings" and "Field of Vision" explore the themes of crossings, thresholds, and borders. He then reads excerpts from "Markings."

Reciting of "Pulse" (03:35)

"Pulse," a poem about fishing, is a rejoicing in unlimited freedom and feeling the hum of the river. Heaney explains his purpose of transferring the physical sensation into a meaning.

Reciting of "Squarings xxiv" (02:46)

The physical and metaphorical aspects of the poems about water and the harbor in "Seeing Things" give a sense of fullness, plentiful, beatitude, and momentariness.

Reciting of "Squarings xxxi" (02:57)

Heaney explains that the poem beginning "not an avenue and not a bog" is about a road with an arch of trees. The poem captures the themes of crossings and thresholds.

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Seamus Heaney: Looking Back

DVD Price: $169.95
DVD + 3-Year Streaming Price: $254.93
3-Year Streaming Price: $169.95



Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney has been judged by Robert Lowell to be the most important Irish poet since Yeats. This classic program looks back over Heaney’s career at the time his best-selling collection Seeing Things—a return to the rural childhood territory of his very first book—was published, offering a rare opportunity to hear the poet read and discuss his work. Through poems including "Death of a Naturalist," "The Toome Road," "Wheels Within Wheels," "The Strand at Lough Beg" and "Seeing Things," he describes his efforts to balance losses with life’s marvels, the lyrical with the elegiac, and social responsibility with creative freedom in a society divided by religion and politics. (52 minutes)

Length: 52 minutes

Item#: BVL10396

ISBN: 978-0-7365-5301-8

Copyright date: ©1991

Closed Captioned

Performance Rights

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Not available to Home Video customers.

Only available in USA and Canada.