The award of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature to Seamus Heaney recognized not only the aesthetic achievement of his work, but also its political urgency. Here Steven Matthews presents a genealogy of Irish poetry which centres upon Heaney's recent preoccupation with the relations between poetry, politics and history. Writing from the perspective of Irish critical responses to the poetry, he discusses a wide range of work from John Hewitt through Heaney himself to Paul Muldoon. All of these poets have been inspired directly or indirectly by the situation in the North of Ireland. Placing the poems in their historical context, the author also analyses how these poets have reacted to the influence of W.B. Yeats. This important book offers a new approach to Irish poetry, linking it for the first time to the crucial political and historical events which lie at its centre.