Auden wrote of the mature Herman Melville that he ‘sailed into an extraordinary mildness’. The same sort of thing could be found in Seamus Heaney, even though he has always written with a degree of calm, with hospitable decorum. It was this level-headedness that enabled him to write about sectarian violence in the magisterial Station Island poems (1984). Now we have a mild chain before us, rather than a sacred island.
Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney
by Dennis O’Driscoll
Faber and Faber, $24.99 pb, 535 pp, 9780571242535