Seamus Heaney's most recent collection, District and Circle, was recently reviewed for the Christian Science Monitor; Elizabeth Lund, the reviewer, picks out "Anything Can Happen," a version of Horace, Carm. 1.34 rewritten as a meditation on 9-11 [and originally published by Amnesty International], as something that doesn't work for her:
"Anything"...illustrates how an overreliance on craftsmanship or the past can limit a writer. Readers would expect Heaney to say something profound about terrorism. Yet instead he leans on Horace's "Odes" and mythology, making the god Jupiter as responsible for the tragedy as terrorists. That kind of artistry can easily fall flat...
[Cf. also William Wooten in TLS] Cue the legions of Horace worshippers to protest vigorously...Others might argue that Heaney is merely echoing Pat Robertson (or was it Jerry Falwell?)...In any case, the Guardian was more generous back in April:
Like it or not, this cleverness - call it eelishness - is one of the most consistent elements of Heaney's work, and on the whole it is one of his great strengths. In District and Circle, it allows him to study a worldful of wars, and to do so on his own terms. Heaney's command of language remains as powerful a tool as ever. This is not the war on terror so much as the terror of war, and not so much the terror - or not only that - but the allure of it. District and Circle takes no sides, so that those who have overturned the high towers in 'Anything Can Happen' are 'regarded' - a typically slippery, double-edged blade of a word, in a book full of double-edged blades.