The Haw Lantern
New York: Farrar Straus Giroux, 1987. First US edition, first printing. Octavo. Original red cloth over boards with gilt title to spine; original dust jacket (not price-clipped). Fine in fine dust jacket. Item #37
Fine first edition of Seamus Heaney’s (1939–2013) collection of poems focusing on mortality, loss, and the self in society. Heaney was an internationally renowned Irish poet, playwright, and translator who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. A native of Northern Ireland, Heaney authored over twenty volumes of poetry and criticism, and his poetry is widely lauded by critics and popular readers alike for its traditionalism and pre-modern emphases. Heaney attended Queen’s University Belfast and lived in Dublin from 1976 until his death in 2013, also living part-time in the US where he served as a professor at Harvard University from 1981 to 1997 and as its Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet-in-Residence from 1988 to 2006. The collection’s title refers to the haw fruit, which stands as a symbol of defiance against winter and for the dignity and resiliency of the Northern Irish people. Heaney wrote the collection amidst the political and religious turmoil of “The Troubles,” and many consider the collection a meditation on the self within society during times of struggle and conflict. Several of the collection’s poems, including the sonnet cycle “Clearances,” were inspired by the death of Heaney’s mother and offer a moving reflection on love, mortality, and loss. A fine copy of The Haw Lantern from one of the world’s greatest modern poets.