Seamus Heaney – A life of rhyme

An article about Seamus Heaney and his poetry from the Guardian. Here’s an extract:

Heaney’s poetry has a distinctive poetic language that comes from a direct and intimate connection with the Irish landscape and its culture rather than any academic literary ambition. He has often said that he showed no special aptitude or poetic promise as a child.

A poem like Alphabets recalls a small boy wondering over the alphabet, but showing no precocious mastery – “First it is ‘copying out’, and then ‘English'” – until, as he puts it, “the poet’s dream stole over him like sunlight.” If there was poetry in Mossbawn, it came through holiday, festival and party recitations.

Then, in 1953, this paradise was shattered when his brother Christopher was killed in a road accident, aged three. In the elegiac poem Mid-Term Break, Heaney wrote about this dreadful episode in his young, adolescent life (he was 13). He describes being “embarrassed by old men standing up to shake my hand”, and then, with the poet’s detachment, seeing his baby brother’s corpse laid out in an upstairs room with “a poppy bruise on his left temple”. Even by the stoical traditions of the North, Heaney learned early to ingest his pain.

Read the rest here.

 

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