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Seamus Heaney’s Globe

Seamus Heaney’s Globe

(p.177) Chapter 8 Seamus Heaney’s Globe
Poetry in a Global Age
Jahan Ramazani
University of Chicago Press

Seamus Heaney has often been understood as a quintessentially local poet, rooted in Irish history and landscape. Without denying the crucial significance of Ireland in Heaney’s poetic imagination, this chapter shows that his poetry is traversed by all five of Arjun Appadurai’s global flows—the technoscape of electric light, morse code, and airplanes; the mediascape of radio-transmitted voices from London, Europe, and the “wideness of the world”; the ethnoscape of peoples moving from country to city, rural underdevelopment to global metropolis, let alone the ancient traces in Ireland of Vikings, Romans, Phoenicians, and Anglo-Saxons; the financescape in the trade enacted by these and other peoples; and finally the ideoscape of political and cultural ideas exported abroad and imported from elsewhere. To these, this chapter adds a sixth term—“poetryscape,” the binding force of poetic language and form within a poem and among poems of different times and places. The stretch, the enmeshment, the connectiveness of the global—for Heaney, these aren’t just objective forces; they are also imaginative experiences, embedded in and made visible by the binding texture of the parallels, allusions, figurations, architectonics, etymologies, and resonances of poems such as “Alphabets” and “Electric Light.”

Keywords:   Seamus Heaney, Alphabets, Electric Light, Arjun Appadurai, Ireland, global poet, local poet, globalization, lyric, poetry

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