District and Circle

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District and Circle
Cover of British hardback edition
Author Seamus Heaney
Country United Kingdom
Language English
Genre Poetry Collection
Publisher Faber and Faber (UK)
Farrar, Straus and Giroux (U.S.)
Publication date
1 April 2006 (1st edition)
Media type Print
Pages 76
ISBN 0-571-23096-2 (UK hardback)
ISBN 0-374-53081-5 (U.S. hardback)
ISBN 0-571-23097-0 (UK paperback)
ISBN 0-374-53081-5 (U.S. paperback)
OCLC 62891650
Preceded by Electric Light
Followed by Human Chain

District and Circle is a poetry collection by Seamus Heaney, who received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. It was published in 2006 and won the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize, the most prestigious poetry award in the UK.[1][2] The collection also won the Irish Times "Poetry Now Award".[note 1]

Reporting on the Eliot Prize, the BBC commented in 2007, "The award is yet more confirmation, as if it was needed, of Heaney's reputation as, arguably, the English language's greatest living bard, whom author Malcolm Bradbury once described as 'the poet of poets'. In 2013, Heaney's volumes made up two-thirds of the sales of living poets in Britain.[4]

The poet dedicated District and Circle[note 2] to the Canadian professor of Irish Studies Ann Saddlemyer.[5] Heaney has been recorded reading this collection on the Seamus Heaney Collected Poems album.


  • The Turnip-Snedder
  • A Shiver
  • Polish Sleepers
  • Anahorish 1944
  • To Mick Joyce in Heaven
  • The Aerodrome
  • Anything Can Happen
  • Helmet
  • Out of Shot
  • Rilke: After the Fire
  • District and Circle (1)
  • District and Circle (2)
  • District and Circle (3)
  • District and Circle (4)
  • District and Circle (5)
  • To George Seferis in the Underworld
  • Wordsworth's Skates
  • The Harrow-Pin
  • Poet to Blacksmith
  • Midnight Anvil
  • Súgán
  • Senior Infants 1. The Sally Rod
  • Senior Infants 2. A Chow
  • Senior Infants 3. One Christmas Day in the Morning
  • The Nod
  • A Clip
  • Edward Thomas on the Lagans Road
  • Found Prose 1. The Lagans Road
  • Found Prose 2. Tall Dames
  • Found Prose 3. Boarders
  • The Lift
  • Nonce Words
  • Stern
  • Out of This World 1. "Like everybody else..."
  • Out of This World 2. Brancardier
  • Out of This World 3. Saw Music
  • In Iowa
  • Höfn
  • On the Spot
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (1)
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (2)
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (3)
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (4)
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (5)
  • The Tollund Man in Springtime (6)
  • Moyulla
  • Planting the Alder
  • Tate's Avenue
  • A Hagging Match
  • Fiddleheads
  • To Pablo Neruda in Tamlaghtduff
  • Home Help 1. Helping Sarah
  • Home Help 2. Chairing Mary
  • Rilke: The Apple Orchard
  • Quitting Time
  • Home Fires 1. A Scuttle for Dorothy Wordsworth
  • Home Fires 2. A Stove Lid for W. H. Auden
  • The Birch Grove
  • Cavafy: "The rest I'll speak of to the ones below in Hades"
  • In a Loaning
  • The Blackbird of Glanmore

Critical reception[edit]

The poetry in District and Circle has been widely and positively reviewed by the critics.[6] In the Observer Review Andrew Motion wrote, "Due in large part to the richness of his language, and also to the undiminished freshness of his response to time-honoured things, its consolidations have the feel of celebrations. The book does not merely dig in, but digs deep."[7] The poet and critic Stephen Burt also praised the book, writing that "anyone who isn’t impressed isn’t listening."[8] Brad Leithauser, in the New York Times, praised Heaney for "saying something extraordinary while, line by line, conveying a sense that this is something an ordinary person might actually say".[9]

The critic Peter McDonald said "The book contains marvellous prose-poems on the peopled landscapes of his schooldays, along with sonnets - seemingly effortless in their sheer fluency, but memorably tough and intent".[10] Stephen Knight wrote that District and Circle was not "as immediate as his earlier work," but he still considered the book to be successful on its own terms, characterizing it as "a late flowering." [11]


  1. ^ Heaney won the Irish Times "Poetry Now Award" again in 2011 for his collection, Human Chain.[3]
  2. ^ The title alludes to how he used to travel to work in the 1960s on the District and Circle lines on the London Underground.[4]


  1. ^ "Seamus Heaney". Poems and Poets. Poetry Foundation. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  2. ^ "More about the Prize". Poetry Book Society. Retrieved 11 May 2013. 
  3. ^ Heaney wins 'Irish Times' poetry award Irish Times, 2011-03-26. (subscription required)
  4. ^ a b "Seamus Heaney". Faces of the week. BBC News. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  5. ^ O'Donoghue, Bernard (2012). The Cambridge Companion to Seamus Heaney (Cambridge Companions to Literature). Cambridge University Press. p. 120 (footnote 23). ISBN 9780521838825. 
  6. ^ Murphy, Kevin (Summer 2007). "District and Circle" (PDF). Journal of the American Irish Historical Society. 19 (3): 1–10. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
    Walters, Henry (2006). "Plying the Trade". Harvard Book Review. 8 (1). Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
    Martiny, Erik. A Companion to Poetic Genre. Wiley-Blackwell. ISBN 9781444344295. 
    Fawbert, David. "District and Circle". Connecting with Seamus Heaney. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  7. ^ Motion, Andrew (1 April 2006). "Digging Deep". Guardian - Observer. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  8. ^ Burt, Stephen. "Stephen Burt reviews District and Circle by Seamus Heaney". Poetry Matters. Tower Poetry. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  9. ^ Leithauser, Brad (16 July 2006). "Wild Irish". New York Times. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  10. ^ McDonald, Peter. "The Clutch Of Earth". Literary Review. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 
  11. ^ Knight, Stephen (9 April 2006). "The bog man cometh (again)". independent. Retrieved 18 May 2013. 

External links[edit]