Seamus Heaney, widely considered the most gifted living poet in Ireland and Britain, is the first Irish poet since Yeats to gain an international reputation. In this study, Henry Hart discusses his poems, his creative and personal situations, and his assimilation of contemporary literary theory. From Heaney's Ulster background, to poetic influences as diverse as Dante and Wordsworth, Yeats and Bly, Hart offers lucid insights. Hart argues that the best way into Heaney's poetic world is to seek to understand him - as with Blake and Yeats - in terms of oppositions and conflicts, progressions and syntheses. At the root of all his work is a multifaceted argument with himself, with others, with sectarian Northern Ireland, with his Anglo-Irish heritage, with his Roman Catholicism, and with his Nationalist upbringing on a farm in County Derry. For each volume of poems, from ""Door into the Dark"" to ""The Haw Lantern"", Hart identifies and works with a specific problems in the text as he also developed its intellectual and creative implications. He covers aspects as diverse as Heaney's incorporation of antipastoral attitudes in his poems, his fascination with how etymology recapitulates ancient and modern history, and his use of myth, history and apocalypticism in ""North"". Placing his trust in art's ability to confront conflicts between freedom and responsibility, between private craft and public involvement, Heaney is shown nontheless to chastise himself for failing to have a greater impact on the situation he left behind him in Northern Ireland. Hart explores how Heaney communicates a political urgency lacking in much contemporary poetry.