Unified by its theme of metamorphosis, these poems descend deeply into subjects as divergent as a jetty that disappears during high tide, to a talking parasitical head, to a sandlot baseball legend, to a famine road in Ireland, to Orpheus, to Wittgenstein, to a murdered poet and his wife, and finally to grave personal loss, tracing through all of its many attentions the thread that binds the physical to the metaphysical—a psychic passage from death back to life again.
Award-winning poet and scholar Daniel Tobin’s Belated Heavens spans from prehistory to modern Manhattan, Neanderthals “cowering in caves” to a man snoring in Penn Station as if he’s “swallowed an espresso machine.” With his varied iconographies Tobin delves into timeless themes of violence, destruction and endurance, in poems that run the gamut from form to free verse as they offer the reader an underlying hope, a tentative belief that humanity can survive and thrive despite the volatility of the world.
Belated Heavens is a featured book on Poetry Daily, and Massachusetts Poetry Festival calls it a "must read book." Winner of the Massachusetts Book Award in Poetry.
—Joseph Lennon, author of Irish Orientalism and Fell Hunger
—The Harvard Review
Awards and recognition:
Featured book on Poetry Daily
Finalist for the ForeWord Magazine Poetry Book Award
"The readings are clear, complete, thorough, and give insight on both the poetry and Heaney's use of poetics."
—Robert F. Garratt
“So refreshingly original and so much needed... Tobin opens new ground as he strikes inwards and downwards, unearthing interpretive treasures and, best of all, new kinds of questions.”
—South Atlantic Review
“A thorough analysis of Heaney’s oeuvre to date, one that avoids the limitations of formalism and sectarian ideology.”
—Irish Studies Review
“Tobin’s very detailed and admirably interconnected commentary on the poems themselves is impressive.”
—World Literature Today
“A valuable contribution to modern Irish literary scholarship... Invigorating and commendable.”
—Modern Language Review
"Daniel Tobin declares independence from the Academy of Postmodernist Poetry, the new establishment. He sees postmodernist relativeism as a radical nominalism, flatening the world into cynical power plays or even nihilism. To defend his coutner-vision of language bridging to rich and even mystical realisites, Tobin assembles the marvelously disparate company of Emily Dickinson, Simone Weil, W.B. Yeats, Wallace Stevens, Czeslaw Milosz, Gwendolyn Brooks, John Ashbery, Louise Gluck, Yuself Komunyakaa, and R.S. Thomas, all writers who trust the fracture of language not to annihilate meaning, but to enlarge it. A complex, sophisticated, and magnanimous book." Rosanna Warren
"With unflnching sobriety and daring, Daniel Tobin's new book, On Serious Earth: Poetry and Transcendnence, figures as a necessary voice in a conversation too often shrill with hyperbole or lackluster with a chronic failiure to commit. Never before have the poverties engendered by a loss of stabilizing values, however multiply conceived, found such an attentive and bracing response, intent upon a broader contemporary cultural analysis in which the conflation of taste and judgment emerges as symptomatic of a greater loss, a blindness to the metaphysics endemic to language and its healing power--exemplary forms imaginative, visionary, gernerous, inquisitive and haunted. A smart and beautiful book."
"...Daniel Tobin has come to the rescue by editing this elightened edition of Lola Ridge's affecting, wonderfully accessible poems." Anne Stevenson