Heaney reconciled in himself two traditions often seen as being in irreconcilable conflictGreat 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.It was easy to be a little sceptical about Seamus Heaney. Long before he won the Nobel prize, he was Famous Seamus, the superstar bard whose lulling, lyrical voice and memories of an archaic rustic world appealed to those who would otherwise never dream of opening a book of contemporary poetry. His popularity sat uneasily with those who see poetry as the proper pursuit of an especially brilliant and soulful elite. He was also, in the words of WB Yeats, his great predecessor as Irish national poet, a …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books