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District and Circle

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”The three-tongued glacier has begun to melt” is how Seamus Heaney begins ”Höfn” in his new collection of verse, which juxtaposes natural imagery with a deep sense of foreboding about the technological age. In the title poem, the 1995 Nobel laureate describes a train station where he finds beauty in ”the dreamy ramparts/Of escalators ascending and descending” but is also troubled by crowds ”street-loud, then succumbing to herd-quiet.” Though anxiety is the dominant emotion of District and Circle, Heaney also writes playfully about William Wordsworth’s ice skates and the erotic qualities of fiddlehead ferns. And ”In Iowa” exemplifies Heaney’s resonant blend of melodic language and eerie tone: ”In the slush and rush and hiss/Not of parted but as of rising waters.”