Heaney on Writing

word and silence

Stepping StonesHere’s Seamus Heaney talking about writing, from Dennis O’Driscoll’s book-length interview with him, Stepping Stones:

On Inspiration

On the week in May 1969 when he wrote “about forty poems”: It was a visitation, an onset, and as such, powerfully confirming. This you felt, was “it.” You had been initiated into the order of the inspired. Even though most of the poems didn’t stand the critical test later on, the experience itself was crucial. From that point on, I felt different in myself as a writer. (147)

Does Heaney see “forcibleness” (from the Greek energeia) as a litmus test of true poetry? It’s certainly what sets the seal of inevitability of much of the best writing. It’s “the force that through the green fuse drives the flower.” The attribute that makes you feel the lines have been decreed, that there has been no fussy picking and…

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