November 19, 2012 § 2 Comments
Heaney, like many authors I like, has the talent of saying things simply whilst covering an impressive amount of ground. ‘Economy of language’, my teacher called it. Or managing to convey the complexity of things whilst only using a few words. To me, it is what makes an author great, and constitutes the best style. I do love flowery language sometimes, but it is a brilliantly, simply crafted sentence that will truly move me. Unexpected metaphors that say more than you could imagine, a rightly placed comma, a powerful negative. When it is done well, it feels as though piecing something together that becomes self-evident just as you’re figuring it out. And sometimes you don’t figure it all out, and that’s fine, because with authors like these, a second reading will never be too much.
Seamus Heaney certainly is an author like these. I feel like I only understand a fraction of a fraction of his poems, but what I do see is already quite extraordinary. And I think this quotation from ‘Personal Helicon’ describes the process of reading and writing quite accurately – but then, his descriptions are always pretty accurate. It is about an echo, something faint, that grows stronger as you listen and think, as you tentatively let it in, or out, and embrace its multiple meanings. It is something that vibrates inside, that touches you like a pitchfork moves the string, and that doesn’t stop until long after the sound is over.
I can only be grateful for these moments when I am reading, and wish you as many – whatever it is that sets the darkness echoing for you. Whatever it is that you do to see yourself.
Have a lovely week.