We have lost a writer who masterfully synthesised traditions – and was also a great ambassador for poetry as a craft of listeningI’m of that generation that first encountered contemporary poetry at school through poems such as Digging: that squelchy soundscape of compacted memory and turf that opened Seamus Heaney’s 1966 debut, Death of a Naturalist. It was, I suppose, perfect GCSE exam fodder; metaphor, anecdote, rhyme, alliteration: it had it all. I was hooked.Digging is a classic young man’s poem, a search for validation from the past, for continuity with a world that has already moved on. And Heaney, who has died aged 74, was the poet of recollection par excellence, his lines effortlessly transporting the reader to the rural Northern Ireland of his youth. But if he might occasionally have been accused of nostalgia, it was always balanced by the vitality of his language, which probes and pulls you into a world of immanent things: a turnip-snedder, a schoolbag, sticky blackberries or a waterfall as a “helter-skelter of muslin and glass”.Heaney’s verse really came alive to me in his 1975 collection North, which I treasure in my sky blue paperback from Faber & Faber. Arguably Heaney at his …read more

Via: The Guardian | Books