Seamus Heaney was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland. Death of a Naturalist, his first collection of poems, appeared in 1966, and was followed by poetry, criticism and translations which established him as the leading poet of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature, and twice won the Whitbread Book of the Year, for The Spirit Level (1996) and Beowulf (1999). Stepping Stones, a book of interviews conducted by Dennis O’Driscoll, appeared in 2008; Human Chain, his last volume of poems, was awarded the 2010 Forward Prize for Best Collection. He died in 2013. His translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Book VI was published posthumously in 2016 to critical acclaim, followed in 2018 by 100 Poems, a selection of poems from his entire career, chosen by his family.
A bi-lingual edition of Seamus Heaney’s prize-winning bestseller, Beowulf.
‘Works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past.’
‘Heaney’s voice, by turns mythological and journalistic, rural and sophisticated, reminiscent and impatient, stern and yielding, curt and expansive, is one of a suppleness almost equal to consciousness itself.’
‘His is “close-up” poetry – close up to thought, to the world, to the emotions. Few writers at work today, in verse or fiction, can give the sense of rich, fecund, lived life that Heaney does.’
‘More than any other poet since Wordsworth he can make us understand that the outside world is not outside, but what we are made of.’
‘The poet who has shown the finest art in presenting a coherent vision of Ireland, past and present.’
‘But I've no spade to follow men like them. Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests. I'll dig with it.’
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.’
‘A good poem allows you to have your feet on the ground and your head in the air simultaneously. ’
‘Our shells clacked on the plates.My tongue was a filling estuaryMy palate hung with starlight:As I tasted the salty PleiadesOrion dipped his foot into the water.’
‘The way we are livingTimorous or boldWill have been our life.’
Are there any exhibitions about Seamus Heaney?
Yes, there are two – one in Northern Ireland and one in Dublin. Seamus Heaney HomePlace is an award-winning arts and literary centre dedicated to the life and work of the poet, located in his home village of Bellaghy, Co Derry. It features a fully interactive exhibition over two floors. More information here.
Seamus Heaney: Listen Now Again is a National Library of Ireland exhibition about the life and work of Seamus Heaney, filled with his manuscripts and notebooks, and housed in the Cultural and Heritage Centre at Bank of Ireland, College Green, Dublin. More information here.
Who were Seamus Heaney's poetic influences?
Early on, Seamus Heaney was influenced by Irish and British poets such as Gerard Manley Hopkins, Patrick Kavanagh and Ted Hughes, later a friend with whom he edited The Rattle Bag. Later in life, he greatly admired the Polish poet Czeslaw Milosz.
Where is Seamus Heaney's archive?
Seamus Heaney donated his literary papers to the National Library of Ireland in 2011. These include manuscripts, drafts, notebooks and letters. There is also an archive of his letters at the Rose Library in Emory University, Atlanta.