On June 28th, Faber & Faber will publish 100 Poems, a new selection of Seamus Heaney’s most celebrated works. The collection spans the poet’s entire career and his twelve original volumes, from Death of Naturalist (1966) to Human Chain (2010), with the poems specially chosen by the Heaney family. As such, it is not only a record of Seamus Heaney’s poetic achievement over five decades, but also resonates with the personal memories of his immediate family. Alongside best-loved poems such as ‘Mid-Term Break’, ‘Clearances 3’ and ‘Postscript’ are others that capture specific moments, people and places.
100 Poems is the culmination of a lifetime’s writing, in all its richness and power, light and shade. Publication will coincide with the launch of a major new exhibition at the National Library of Ireland – Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again – opening in summer 2018. To stay up to date on plans for the exhibition, sign up for the newsletter by clicking here.
To whet your appetite, follow us on Twitter, where we'll be posting a few lines from a poem every day in the run-up to publication. In the meantime, here’s one of our personal favourites – and the poem from which the exhibition draws its name.
The Rain Stick
for Beth and Rand
Up-end the rain stick and what happens next
Is a music that you never would have known
To listen for. In a cactus stalk
Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash
Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe
Being played by water, you shake it again lightly
And diminuendo runs through all its scales
Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes
A sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,
Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;
Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.
Up-end the stick again. What happens next
Is undiminished for having happened once,
Twice, ten, a thousand times before.
Who cares if all the music that transpires
Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?
You are like a rich man entering heaven
Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.