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A cliché of Heaney criticism is that his poetry can be divided into two phases: an earlier one of bog and body, a later one of air and spirit. It is less frequently observed that a third phase emerged in the late Heaney. His poems no longer treat body or spirit as a binary but explore the catalytic relationship between them, and the constant movement, between time and eternity, between the past and the present, between the represented and the representation, between history and memory, between filiation and affliliation. His poetry never erupted into a fulminating rage against the killings of the Troubles as an inevitable consequence of a rancid politics. A therapeutic function is fundamental to Heaney’s poetry. Violence enters his poetry as painful and wounding divisions, to which his poetry is applied as a healing ointment.
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