This book scrutinizes Heaney's language in order to examine his theory of poetry and the writer's responsibility to art and politics. The author, himself a poet, works chronologically through the poetry and discusses it in light of Heaney's writings on the appropriate language of poetry. Chapters also look at Heaney's language and at the government of the tongue.
Introduction: "An art that knows its mind" 1. English or Irish lyric? 2. 60s Heaney 3. Phonetics and feeling - from "Wintering Out" to "Field Work" 4. 70s Heaney 5. "The Limbo of Lost Words" - the Sweeney complex 6. Beyond the alphabet - "The Haw Lantern" and "Seeing Things" 7. Heaney's "Ars Poetica" - Mandelstam, Dante and "The Government of the Tongue" Conclusion.