Opened Ground – poems by Seamus Heaney

This week we have Richard from Brompton Library who is reviewing Seamus Heaney’s collection of poems, Opened Ground.


I can thoroughly recommend any collection of poems by Seamus Heaney and there are many in digital form to choose from on the Cloud Library. Selected poems 1966-1975 was my first introduction to the poet many years ago. These poems have a strong connection with the land and the country. The language has a tactile quality that brings you cheek by jowl with the sensuality of nature.

Interestingly, many people during the early stages of lockdown in London, commented on the sudden pleasure of seeing nature more clearly: the burst of colour (early Spring), noticing many animal species compared with pre-lockdown and hearing more varied bird sounds etc.

Heaney’s Gifts of Rain from Opened Ground, floods the senses with its use of monosyllabic Anglo-Saxon words that capture the tactile feel of a straw-footed mammal on the mud and the sounds and smells of the river Moyola bursting its banks near Heaney’s hometown. The relationship of the worker to the land is pictured in the brush-stroke of a line: ‘A man wading lost fields breaks the pane of flood: a flower of mud- water blooms up to his reflection.’  Many of the poems dwell on this relationship of the people with the land such as The Tollund Man and Bog Queen, poems based on Bronze aged cadavers that have been preserved in the peat bogs of northern Europe capture this intimacy between the people and the land through bold imagery and rich use of metaphor: ‘my body was braille for the creeping influences.’ In addition to these themes is a concern with the political situation that dominated his landscape during these formative years. There is a great selection of his work to be found here on cloudLibrary:

New Selected Poems 1988 – 2013

District and Circle


Death of a Naturalist

Human Chain


If you would like to read any of these works of Seamus Heaney, they are available here from our cloudLibrary.  All you need is your Kensington and Chelsea Library card and if you are not a member, don’t worry, just click here to join.

Books we love

In this week’s books we love, Marion from Chelsea is reviewing On the Trail of Wolves where Philippa Forrester finds out what it’s like to live among wolves.  Her second review is the new novel by Malcolm Galdwell, Talking to Strangers, where he explores how easy it is to misread people and the damaging consequences of doing so.  Over to Marion… Continue reading “Books we love”

Books we Love

This week, we have Stephen King’s classic horror novel, The Shining.  Set in The Overlook hotel, writer and recovering alcoholic Jack takes a job as an out of season caretaker with his wife and his son.  A storm leaves the family snowbound and as son Danny’s “shining” abilities enable him to see the hotel’s past, Jack starts to lose his own grip on reality, leaving his family in terrible danger.  Here is Craig with his review. Continue reading “Books we Love”

Books we love

This week we are reviewing Left Neglected, written by the best-selling author of Still Alice, Lisa Genova, it follows the story of Sarah, whose life changes dramatically after a car accident.  Here is Silvia with her review… Continue reading “Books we love”

Books we love

The interpretation of murderThis week we have Fani from Central Library reviewing one of her favourite books, The Interpretation of Murder by Jed Rubenfeld.  After a series of brutal attacks on young, society women, Sigmund Freud is called upon to use his revolutionary new ideas to help profile the killer and restore the memory of one of the victims. Continue reading “Books we love”

Books we love

This week on Books We Love, Georgina from North Kensington is reviewing Michael Rosen’s Book of Play. Michael is the much loved author of adult’s and children’s books, including our children’s book of the week, ‘We’re Going on a Bear Hunt’. Continue reading “Books we love”

Recommended Reads

This week, our Book of the Week is 10 Minutes and 38 Seconds in this Strange World. The novel deals with themes such as identity, family, and culture so we have put together a list of books with similar themes that we hope you will also enjoy. Continue reading “Recommended Reads”

Three books read by Connell and Marianne in Normal People

A big part of Marianne and Connell’s world is literature.  Books are mentioned, talked about and read all the way through the novel.  Their shared love of writing is also what bonds them and makes them different from the people around them.  Here are three of the books mentioned in the novel that you can download now from our cloudLibrary.

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro

Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro tells the story of three young orphans living in Hailsham, a mysterious and oppressive boarding school, where all is not as it seems.  A tender coming of age story and a gripping mystery, intensified by a love triangle between the three main characters and their gradual uncovering of the sinister reality of their origins.  Marianne reads this while struggling with her own surroundings.

The Golden Notebook by Doris Lessing

The Golden Noteboook is the story of a divorced novelist, Anna Wulf, trying to find her identity and make sense of her inner turmoil through writing in a set of different coloured notebooks.  It has been called “inner space” fiction as it focuses on the characters inner life as a mirror for societal breakdown.   Not a likely choice for a typical teenage boy, but for Connell, who finds expresses himself through writing rather than words, and who struggles with his own inner turmoil, it is a fitting choice.

Emma by Jane Austen

When asked at college to name a divisive female protagonist, Connell names the rich, clever and high-spirited Emma Woodhouse.  Austen herself described Emma as a heroine that “no one but myself will like”.  Could she be reminding Connell of anyone…?

Fiona, Brompton Library

If you would like to read any of these books,  including Normal People, they are available here on cloudLibrary.  You can log in using a computer and download the app to start reading.  You just need your library membership number to log in.  Not a member?  Don’t worry, click here to join our library service.