Seamus Heaney’s Mythmaking  book cover
1st Edition

Seamus Heaney’s Mythmaking

  • Available for pre-order on April 7, 2023. Item will ship after April 28, 2023
ISBN 9781032211541
April 28, 2023 Forthcoming by Routledge
296 Pages

FREE Standard Shipping
USD $160.00

Prices & shipping based on shipping country


Book Description

Seamus Heaney’s Mythmaking examines Seamus Heaney’s poetic engagement with myth from his earliest work to the posthumous publication of Aeneid Book VI. The essays explore the ways in which Heaney creates his own mythic outlook through multiple mythic lenses. They reveal how Heaney adopts a demiurgic role throughout his career, creating a poetic universe that draws on diverse mythic cycles from Greco-Roman to Irish and Norse to Native American. In doing so, this collection is in dialogue with recent work on Heaney’s engagement with myth. However, it is unique in its wide-ranging perspective, extending beyond Ancient and Classical influences.

In its focus on Heaney’s personal metamorphosis of several mythic cycles, this collection reveals more fully the poet’s unique approach to mythmaking, from his engagement with the act of translation to transnational influences on his work and from his poetic transformations to the poetry’s boundary-crossing transitions. Combining the work of established Heaney scholars with the perspectives of early-career researchers, this collection contains a wealth of original scholarship that reveals Heaney’s expansive mythic mind. Mythmaking, an act for which Heaney has faced severe criticism, is reconsidered by all contributors, prompting multifaceted and nuanced readings of the poet’s work.

Table of Contents

Introduction: Seamus Heaney’s Mythmaking

Ian Hickey & Ellen Howley


  1. ‘Words that the rest of us can understand’: Heaney and the Eclogue
  2. Meg Tyler

  3. "The Age of Ghosts" and "The Age of Births": Seamus Heaney’s "Route 110" and Tesserae
  4. Eugene O’Brien 

  5. Seamus Heaney’s Shield of Perseus
  6. Brendan Corcoran


  7. Seamus Heaney and the Making of Sweeney Astray
  8. Stephen Regan

  9. ‘Greek Gifts’: Seamus Heaney’s The Cure at Troy, Its Political Contexts and Ethical Imperatives
  10. Michael Parker

  11. ‘Always new to me, always familiar’: mythical re-significations in Heaney’s diction and poetic depictions in Italian
  12. Debora Biancheri


  13. ‘Mythologized, Demythologized’: Heaney, Lowell and Becoming-Trickster in Field Work
  14. Michael Hinds

  15. Seamus Heaney: The Burdens and Benefits of Gift - Giving
  16. Henry Hart

  17. Mythic Water in Seamus Heaney’s Poetry
  18. Ellen Howley



  19. Dante, Heaney and the Hauntological
  20. Ian Hickey

  21. Crossing the Threshold to the Underworld in Heaney’s Late Poetry
  22. Joanne Piavanini 

  23. Self-Elegy from Afar: Emptiness and Anabasis in Seamus Heaney’s Late Work

Magdalena Kay

View More



Ian Hickey is a Postdoctoral Researcher in the Irish Institute for Catholic Studies, Mary Immaculate College. His first monograph is entitled Haunted Heaney: Spectres and the Poetry and is published by Routledge as there first book in their Routledge Studies in Irish Literature series. He is interested in 20th and 21st century British and Irish literature and has published articles on Seamus Heaney in Irish University Review, Études Irlandaises, Estudios Irlandeses, Nordic Irish Studies and ABEI: The Brazilian Journal of Irish Studies. He also has a chapter in Spoken Word in the UK (Routledge, 2021) edited by Lucy English and Jack McGowan on the poetry of Benjamin Zephaniah, and has published on twentieth and twenty-first century Irish literature in Irish Studies Review and C21 Literature: Journal of Twenty-First Century Writings.

Ellen Howley lectures at the School of English in Dublin City University. She was awarded her PhD in 2020 for a thesis that explores how Irish and Caribbean poets think and write about the sea. Her work has been published in Irish Studies Review and the Journal of Commonwealth Literature and she has also written for RTÉ. In 2019, she co-organised the Irish Research Council-funded event “Planet Ocean”, an interdisciplinary workshop that brought together researchers from the sciences, humanities, social sciences and industry to discuss the seas and oceans.