Seamus Heaney, from the essay ‘Faith, Hope and Poetry’

“‘Art for art’s sake’ has become a gibe because of an inadequate notion of what art can encompass, and is usually bandied by people who are philistines anyhow. Art has a religious, a binding force, for the artist. Language is the poet’s faith and the faith of his fathers and in order to go his own way and do his proper work in an agnostic time, he has to bring that faith to the point of arrogance and triumphalism….Whether the world falls into the hands of the security forces or the fat-necked speculators, he must get in under his phalanx of words and start resisting.”

-In this last year I’ve read several of Heaney’s books of essays. They are a comfort and a revelation for artists of any media, not just for poets…

Citation: Heaney, Seamus. Preoccupations: Selected Prose, 1968-1978. N.Y.: Noonday, 1990. Print.

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