Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet of Soil and Strife, Dies at 74

heaney2• A few snippets from NY Times: “For much of his career, he was under constant pressure to write favorably about the goals of his fellow Catholics, many of whom wanted a Northern Ireland free of British control, and though his work often concerned the violence in Ulster, he saw both sides of the conflict and avoided polemics in support of the Irish Republican Army. He said he was suspicious of extreme positions.”

“The accessibility of his work helped. It had references to Greek and Celtic legend, but was usually clear, often dazzling with images of nature, epiphanies of the soul. He wrote about bogs and rocks and streams and transformed them into the settings for the moral problems in a way that seemed to reach not only agnostic intellectuals, but also believing Catholics.”

” In the 1984 collection, “Station Island,” he wrote: “The main thing is to write for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust that imagines its haven like your hands at night, dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast. You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous. Take off from here. And don’t be so earnest.”

Seamus Haney, RIP.

ruthandbonoI learned of Seamus Heaney because of Bono from U2. In one of my fave photos, Bono is shown at right reading the poetry of Seamus Heaney to Ruth Graham Bell (1920-2007) shortly after U2 won a handful of Grammy Awards in February 2002. This photo appeared in Billy Graham’s Decision magazine. The caption read: “After receiving four Grammy awards, Bono, of the legendary rock group U2, visited Ruth Bell Graham. Bono, a professing Christian, read to Mrs. Graham the works of poet laureate Seamus Heaney, winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature.”

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