Happy Birthday Seamus!
April 12, 2009 8:06 PM   Subscribe

April 13th is Seamus Heaney's 70th birthday, and to celebrate, the Irish press have honored him in many ways. A Catholic from Northern Ireland, his early poems reflected his upbringing on a farm, but his later poems (and time in the States) spoke powerfully of 'the Troubles.' I thought he deserved a mention in the Blue.

There's the special section in the Irish Times; the many special programs on RTE (a program is also posted). The Independent only gives him one page (?), but presumably most of his countrymen already know of the man.
You can read (and hear him read) some of his poems here.
I wish I could be more eloquent, but really, his poetry says it all, and far better than I could ever hope to. Ireland is lucky indeed to have such living treasure.
posted by dbmcd (13 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite
Well, nobody else has commented, so I just wanted to throw it out there that Seamus Heaney is kick-ass, and so is this FPP.
posted by jock@law at 8:29 PM on April 12, 2009

He translated Beowulf, and that was pretty great.
posted by munyeca at 8:33 PM on April 12, 2009 [1 favorite]

oh yes it was
posted by caddis at 8:36 PM on April 12, 2009

About twenty years ago, he placed a call to the lit journal at which I was interning, inquiring about one of his pieces. Over the phone, his voice sounded like thunder... sodden. Inside a bog... a mossy bog. Next to someone's hoarse father's stone-built farm and all its loamy earth, where low, guttural, Saxon nouns split from their buds and shudder into life. Also, there was bronze involved, somehow. And wood, logs. And soil. Did I mention the soil? It was his father's soil.
posted by darth_tedious at 9:06 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Ah, Seamus. How we love ye.
posted by jeanmari at 9:08 PM on April 12, 2009 [2 favorites]

His bog poems amaze me every time. Great FPP.
posted by ford and the prefects at 9:42 PM on April 12, 2009

Seamus Heaney and Charles Bukowski are the only poets I read for pure recreation. I don't know enough about poetry to know what that might mean.
posted by cmoj at 1:07 AM on April 13, 2009

My mother and I saw him read at UVA some years ago, and my (of Irish stock) mother was star-struck for months afterward. This poem is one of my favorites. He also got a blurb in The Writer's Almanac today.
posted by hellogoodbye at 6:05 AM on April 13, 2009

I dig Seamus Heaney too.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:26 AM on April 13, 2009

My favorite poet along with Langston Hughes.
posted by Rarebit Fiend at 9:14 AM on April 13, 2009

Great FPP. Good resources.

Seeing Things is easily one of my ten favorite books of any kind, and Heaney is, right up there with anyone you want to name. Ever.
posted by kosem at 1:10 PM on April 13, 2009

I lived in Ireland as a kid, and as part of the curriculum for grade 3 or 4 or so, we had to memorize a few short poems. The only one of those poems that I remember to this day is Heaney's "Mid-Term Break" (second poem on the page), about the death of Heaney's younger brother Christopher. It absolutely gutted me as a kid, and I still remember every word.

Did you know that Seamus Heaney shares a birthday with Samuel Beckett? (Heaney was born in 1939, Beckett in 1906). I learned this today from my subscription to Today in Literature, which is an awesome daily e-mail-out about interesting literary things pertaining to that day's date. I am in no way affiliated with Today in Literature, other than thinking it's one of my favourite things to read in the morning.

Thanks for this post, dbmcd!
posted by Hellgirl at 3:30 PM on April 13, 2009

Thanks indeed, and thanks to the great Prof. Heaney. We used to love making fun of his stuff in my college days, and when he came to do a guest lecture in UCG (Galway) sometime in the 1980s we went along purely for (ironic, studenty) laffs. He won us over by sending his own work up even better than we could. And had us rolling on the floor, in stitches laughing. After that we all read his stuff and realised how good it was. A brilliant man.
posted by El Brendano at 1:01 PM on April 14, 2009 [1 favorite]

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