A dazzling assessment of the life and work of the poet and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature, by one of the finest literary critics now writing. Helen Vendler links the poet to his work and his poetry to two rich literary traditions, the English and the Irish. Seamus Heaney has grappled to find symbols adequate to the predicament of his Ulster background and create an ethical poetry that recognizes authentic human intensity wherever it occurs. Collections such as Death of a Salesman, Station Island and most recently, the best-selling Spirit Level document his lyrical mastery and moral rigour. This powerfully written critical biography is the first to illuminate both the art and the life of Heaney, the world's most celebrated poet.