Irish poet and Nobel laureate whose lines of love and loss took inspiration from his childhood in DerryIn 2009, as part of the extensive celebrations in Ireland for his 70th birthday, RTÉ broadcast a documentary about Seamus Heaney. Towards its close, Heaney, who has died aged 74, was asked whether anything in his work seemed appropriate to him as an epitaph. He demurred at first but, when gently prodded, quoted what he had translated from Oedipus at Colonus by Sophocles when his friend the great Polish poet Czesław Miłosz died in 2004. Telling the story of the old king who dies and vanishes into the earth, the play’s Messenger says, in Heaney’s version: “Wherever that man went, he went gratefully.” That, said Heaney, would do for him too.The gratitude is not so much, surely, for the leaving of life, but for the work well done. Heaney suffered a stroke in 2006 and his volume Human Chain (2010) is painfully shadowed by ageing and mortality. But it is also deeply informed by a spirit of resilience and acceptance and, in the extraordinary love poem Chanson d’Aventure, which describes his ambulance drive to hospital with his wife, Marie, by the sense of …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books