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William Wordsworth and Seamus Heaney

4 June 2021

In his new book This Strange Loneliness Dr Peter Mackay explores the poetic relationship between Seamus Heaney and William Wordsworth. Through an in-depth look at archival materials, and at uncollected poems and prose by Heaney, Mackay traces the evolution of Heaney's readings of Wordsworth throughout his career, revealing how Heaney repeatedly turns to the Romantic poet's work for inspiration, corroboration, and amplification, as well as a model for the fortifying power of poetry itself, which offers the fundamental lesson that "it is on this earth we find our happiness, or not at all".

Placing Heaney's readings within their political, historical, and poetic contexts the book also explores how Heaney negotiated the complex relationship between Irish and British culture and identity to claim a persistent form of kinship, and forge a strange community, with the Romantic poet.

This Strange Loneliness: Heaney's Wordsworth is published by McGill-Queen's University Press.