Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet, passes away in Dublin.
September 3, 2013 § Leave a comment
Seamus Heaney, Ireland’s first Nobel prize-winning poet since W.B. Yeats, died aged 74 in hospital in Dublin after a short illness last week.
Great poets, supposedly, should be mad and bad: tormented, tempestuous and at least a little demented. Seamus Heaney was none of these things. He exuded sanity, on the page and in person. He was calm, restrained, centred. And this was not a mere matter of personality. There was more than enough madness and badness around him, in Ireland and in the world. He knew that quiet decency and careful, meticulous words posed a more profound challenge to his times than any wildness ever could. His gift, as an artist and as a public figure, was an immense, unwavering, implacable civility.
Heaney was a mesmerising performer and the initial appeal of his poetry had much to do with an apparent nostalgia for a lost world of rural simplicities. While so much poetry was veering into anarchic free expression or recondite word games, he used largely traditional forms to explore largely traditional subjects: nature, childhood, memory, love.
Of all his poems, ‘Digging’, one of his earliest, remains his best remembered:
Just minutes before his death on the 30th of August, Ireland’s great poet sent his wife Marie a text message that read “Noli timere” (do not be afraid).