A Review of
Reviewed by C. Christopher Smith
When Irish poet Seamus Heaney died six years ago, he left behind a substantial body of work, including twelve individual volumes, three volumes of selected poems, and several noted translations of poetic works. Although he discussed an introductory volume of his selected poems with his editor, that volume never came to fruition during his lifetime. As undoubtedly the greatest Irish poet of the last century, and one of the most heralded global poets, an introductory collection of his work was notably missing.
In the intervening years since his death, his wife and three children endeavored to fill this gap, and the newly released 100 Poems is the fruit of their labors. In a brief introductory note, the family expresses the hope that “everyone will find something here to cherish or be surprised by: that a newcomer will enjoy reading these poems for the first time, and that the long-time devotee might rediscover a forgotten favourite or simply listen again to the poetic voice as it changes and matures over the course of years.”
100 Poems contains many of Heaney’s most familiar poems – including the three initial poems in the collection, “Digging,” “Death of a Naturalist,” and “Blackberry-Picking” – (a full list of all 100 poems is available through the Look Inside feature on Amazon ) and as such this volume is primed to become the gold standard for introducing students and other poetry lovers to Heaney’s work. It offers just enough of a taste of Heaney’s finest poems that readers will want to dig deeper into his body of work.
If you aren’t familiar with Heaney’s poetry, 100 Poems offers you a superb place to dive in; if you are already a fan of his work, this volume presents a simple and affordable way to share your love for Heaney’s work with those who have not yet been immersed in it.