Irish Poet Seamus Heaney Dies | WAMU 88.5 - American University Radio

NPR : News

Filed Under:

Irish Poet Seamus Heaney Dies

Seamus Heaney, "acclaimed by many as the best Irish poet since Yeats," has died, the BBC and other news outlets are reporting.

Heaney was 74 and had recently been in ill health. According to The Irish Times, he died Friday morning at the Blackrock Clinic in Dublin. Sky TV has a short statement from Heaney's family announcing his death. The Associated Press adds that Heaney's publisher, Faber & Faber, has also confirmed the news.

Heaney was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Writer and literary critic Ola Larsmo said then that Heaney's poetry reveals "a profound experience ... that a gap exists between the totality of what can be said and the totality of all that can be witnessed, between the limits of languages and the margins of the actual world in which we live. For Heaney 'poetry' is a means of measuring this gap – if not bridging it."

In 2008, Heaney told All Thing Considered that "I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing."

On the air, he read "The Railway Children":

When we climbed the slopes of the cutting

We were eye-level with the white cups

Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires.

Like lovely freehand they curved for miles

East and miles west beyond us, sagging

Under their burden of swallows.

We were small and thought we knew nothing

Worth knowing. We thought words traveled the wires

In the shiny pouches of raindrops,

Each one seeded full with the light

Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves

So infinitesimally scaled

We could stream through the eye of a needle.

From the U.K., Channel 4's Jon Snow writes that "I was lucky enough to know Seamus Heaney; to interview him and even spend time with him and his wife, Maire. ... When you met him, he was an extension of the poetry that you had read. A wonderful man, white-tousle-haired head, full of light and life, who always greeted you as a long-lost friend."

There's much more about Heaney from Ireland's RTE, which four years ago celebrated his 70th birthday.

Copyright 2013 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.

NPR

How To Sell Diverse Books: A Bookstore Owner's Advice

It's not news that the publishing world isn't very diverse. But over on the other side of the industry, how do owners of neighborhood bookstores try to sell books for or about people of color?
NPR

Can Quinoa Take Root On The 'Roof Of The World'?

Quinoa, once a homebody crop, crossed the Atlantic for the first time this century. Now the Food and Agriculture Organization has a hunch it can thrive in Central and Southwest Asia.
NPR

Senate Control May Swing On North Carolina's Unpopularity Contest

Democratic incumbent Kay Hagan wants voters to punish her GOP challenger Thom Tillis, the speaker of the state House, for unpopular laws. Tillis wants to aim anger toward the president at Hagan.
NPR

Islamic State Uses Online Strategies To Get Its Message Out

Experts say the videotaped killing of journalist James Foley is part of a broader propaganda strategy by Islamist militants. The group, the Islamic State, has become a master of the video medium.

Leave a Comment

Help keep the conversation civil. Please refer to our Terms of Use and Code of Conduct before posting your comments.