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HEANEY, Seamus.

Eleven Poems.

Festival Publications, Belfast , [1965] Stock Code: 131225
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First edition, first issue (with the nine-pointed star to front), rare presentation copy of Heaney's first book, inscribed to fellow-poet Daniel Hoffman (1923-2013), "For Dan Hoffman: with good wishes, Seamus Heaney" inside the front cover.
This is the very scarce first issue of Heaney's first published work, with the printed notice with regard to his "First book of poems, "Death of a Naturalist", due from Faber, Spring 1966". The very first poem, "Personal Helicon (For Michael Longley)" (whose work appeared in the same Festival Publications series) in its opening and closing lines ("As a child, they could not keep me from wells / and old pumps with buckets and windlasses. / I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky" and "I rhyme / to see myself, to set the darkness echoing") prefigures the Nobel Prize acceptance speech that Heaney would make 30 years later, "I credit poetry ultimately because it can make an order as true to the impact of external reality and as sensitive to the inner laws of the poet's being as the ripples that rippled in and rippled out across the water in that scullery bucket fifty years ago. An order where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew. An order which satisfies all that is appetitive in the intelligence and prehensile in the affections. I credit poetry, in other words, both for being itself and for being a help, for making possible a fluid and restorative relationship between the mind's centre and its circumference."
Hoffman had studied at Columbia University in the 1940s, where he had been a member of the Boar's Head poetry society at the same time as Allen Ginsberg. His first collection, An Armada of Thirty Whales (1954), was selected for the Yale Series of Younger Poets by W. H. Auden, who praised its "providing a new direction for nature poetry in the post-Wordsworthian world." In 1973 Hoffman was made Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress. He befriended Heaney from an early date and visited Ireland for literary events around this time, making it most likely that this inscription, though undated, was contemporary. Hoffman's presentation copy of Death of a Naturalist was dated 1966. Signed or inscribed copies of Eleven Poems are very scarce, and meaningful presentation copies rare indeed. This, from the Nobel laureate to a United States poet laureate, is a very compelling example.

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Single octavo quire. Original wrappers printed in black and purple, stapled at the fold. Housed in a black flat-back cloth box by the Chelsea Bindery.


Slight toning at the fold, otherwise fine.


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