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Durham University

Department of English Studies


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Publication details for Professor Stephen Regan

Regan, S. (2016). 'Lux Perpetua: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney, from Door into the Dark to Electric Light'. Romanticism 22(3): 322-330.

Author(s) from Durham


Light shines perpetually in Seamus Heaney's poetry. It has its first glimmerings in poems conceived in darkness and brought into luminous being. The interplay of darkness and light becomes the prevailing metaphor in a poetry of memory and perception, especially in the books published in the 1960s. In the 1970s and 1980s, writing in a subdued light becomes a necessary condition in a tense and sometimes turbulent political climate. A more equable light shines in the work composed in the 1990s, enabling a poetry of meditation and spiritual scrutiny, of quiet celebration and elegy. In later poems, light is cast on a host of theological and eschatological mysteries, and inspires a visionary apprehension of final things. All of these processes of light, from the glimmerings of poetic imagination in the moment of composition to the equation of light with political freedom and philosophical understanding, are validated for Heaney by their profound significance and appeal in Romantic poetry and poetics.

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