Seamus Heaney: Notes

LifeWorksCriticismCommentaryQuotationsReferencesNotes

Matheson’s Varieties [... &c.] (1901)
Varieties and Synonymes of Surnames and Christian Names in Ireland, for the Guidance of Registration and the Public in Searching the Indexes of Births, Deaths, and Marriages, by Robert E. Matheson, Barrister-at-Law / Register-General (Dublin: His Majesty’s Stationary Office 1901) [printed by Alex. Thom]
Chap. III: Use of Different Surnames Interchangeably: English and Irish Names [sub-sect. 1]:

 The practice which prevails in Ireland of using two names appears to be largely traceable to the influence of ancient legislative action.
 By a Statute of 1366, it was provided, inter alia, that ‘every Englishman do use the English language and be named by an English name, leaving off entirely the matter of naming used by the Irish’; and in 1465 [5 Ed. IV, cap. 3] a law was passed enacting “that every Irishman that dwells betwixt or amongst Englishmen in the County of Dublin, Myeth, Vriell, and Kildare .. shall take to him an English surname of one town, as Sutton, Chester, Trym, Skryne, Corke, Kinsale; or colour, as white, blacke, browne; or arte or science, as smith or carpenter; or office, as cooke, butler ...”.
 In many cases, where English and Irish names are used interchangeably, they are translations from one language into the other or translations of words similar in sound.  [21]
 The following may be cited as examples: [English form:] Bird; [Anglicised Irish Form:] Heany; Henehan; Henekan; McEaney; [Irish Words:] ean (ean) - a bird (p.21)

Robert Matheson
(pp.20-21; available as .pdf at Forgotten Books - online; accessed 27.12.2018.)

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Trench (St. Joseph’s TTC, Belfast, April 1964)

The 1st [only?] issue contains an essay on Ulster Journals by Seamus Heaney entitled ‘In Our Own Dour Way’ [see quotation, supra.]. A text-box in the article contains an abbreviated quotation from the Lagan Collection of Ulster Writings (1962): “No writer, however talented, should uproot himself in spirit from his native place […] An Ulster literary tradition must spring out of the life and speech of the province […] the central problem is to interpret the complex spiritual life of the province”. [See further under John Boyd, supra]
 The editorial begins: ‘A new magazine in the North is necessary. That is the theme of Seamus Heaney’s article in this our first issue. While we do not profess to fill this need adequately at least we hope to produce the odd poem, short story or article which, he feels, is any magazine’s justification. We believe that the training colleges offer a rich untapped sources of creative talent and we hope to provide this talent with a platform on which it can develop.’ (p.1).
  The issue also contains a pedagogic contrib. by H. J. Heaney on ‘Reading’ and a schoolboy-ish story by Brian Ferran on the experience of mass-going in week-end disarray under the title ‘Saturday Night and Sunday Morning’.
[Note taken in John Hewitt Special Collection of the Central Library, University of Ulster at Coleraine, 1994; BS.]

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Mossbawn (2) - Heaney s remarked to Denis O’Driscoll on his childhood experience with his aunt Mary, which lies behind the poem “Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication - Sunlight”: ‘[...] Then going to sit with Mary. Not a lot getting said or needing to be said. Just a deep [sym]pathetic stillness and wordlessness. A mixture of lacrimae rerum and Deo gratias. Something in me reverted to the child I’d been in Mossbawn. Something in her just remained constant, like the past gazing at you calmly, without blame. She was a tower of emotional strength, unreflective in a way but undeceived about people or thing[s]. I suppose all I’m saying is I loved her dearly.’ (See O’Driscoll [ed.], Stepping Stones, Faber 2009, p.171.)

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Bogland: Heaney’s theme - traceable to paintings of T. P. Flanagan and documented in Preoccupations (1980) signally occurs in the poem “Bogland” (‘[…] Our unfenced country / Is bog that keeps crusting / Between the sights of the sun […] The wet centre is bottomless’: Door into the Dark, 1969), in “Tolland Man” and also more incidentally in poems such as his translation of Raftery’s “Killeadan”, printed in Éire-Ireland (Fall.Winter 1996), pp.9-10, p.10 (viz., ‘the fish full of fish like a bog full of turf’).

Bogland - cf. Robert McCrum, et al., The Story of English (Faber 1992; 3rd rev. edn. Penguin 2002; Penguin 2003): ‘By a curious irony, the savage and primitive rituals of the Anglii have not been entirely forgotten. Peat-wate has a curious property. In the nineteenth century, Danish farmers, digging for peat, uncovered the bodies of some sacrificial victims, presumably of the Angles, perfectly preserved in the bog. Known as the Moorleichen (swamp corpses), or bog people, they are now on view in a number of Danish museums. One man had been strangled. Another’s throat had been cut. They are astonishingly well-preserved: you can see the stubble on one man’s chin. These leathery corposes are the distant ancestors of the English-speaking peoples.’ (p.55.)

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Bloody Sunday: Heaney contributed to Derry Journal (Bloody Sunday Commemorative Issue, 1 Feb. 1997) stanzas of a poem he wrote on Bloody Sunday (30 Jan. 1972), and supplied at that time to Luke Kelly of the Dubliners with the suggestion that he set them to the air of “The Boys of Mullaghbawn”. Introducing them, Heaney writes: ‘Ahyay, I think it is in order to reprint this abbreviated version now, 25 years after the drive from Belfast to Derry’. The text reads: ‘On a Wednesday morning early I took the road to Derry / Along Glenshane and Foreglen and the cold woods of Hillhead; / A wet wind in the hedges and a dark cloud on the mountain / And flags like black frost mourning that the thirteen men were dead. / The Roe wept at Dungiven and the Foyle cried out to heaven, / Burntollet’s old wound opened and again the Bogside bled; / By Shipquay Gate I shivered and by Lone Moor I enquired/Where I might find the coffins where the thirteen men lay dead. / My heart besieged by anger, my mind a gap of danger, / I walked among their old haunts, the home ground where they bled; / And in the dirt lay justice like an acorn in the winter / Till its oak would sprout in Derry where the thirteen men lay dead.’ These lines, which first appeared in the Derry Journal, were widely copied the Australian Associated Press and others.

James Joyce: among numerous references to works of Joyce in Heaney’s poetry are the epigraph of the poem entitled “A Bat on the Road”: ‘A batlike soul waking to consciousness of itself in darkness and secrecy and loneliness.’ (Opened Ground, p.227.) The poem subsequently quotes the sentence spoken by Stephen’s friend Davin in Chapter V of A Portrait, in the course of the narrative of attempted seduction by a country-woman the account of which summons the epigraph as Stephen’s inward response: ‘so close to me I could hear her breathing’. Not from Joyce is the concluding quotation, ‘she let them do whatever they liked’ (ibid., p.228.)

Thomas Kilroy offers strictures pertinent to Heaney’s conception of a “Sense of Place”: ‘To base one’s identity exclusively upon a mystical sense of place, upon the accident of one’s birth, seems to me a dangerous absurdity. To dedicate one’s life to the systematic betrayal of the same notion seems to be just as absurd.’ (Introduction to Double Cross; quoted in Jack Hanna, reviewing same, in Books Ireland, Oct. 1996, p.279.)

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John Clare (1): Seamus Heaney was among the signatories of letter challenging Eric Robinson’s threatened libel action against Simon Kövesi (Dundee U.), for publishing section of John Clare’s poems from MSS in British libraries (Times Literary Supplement, 14 July 2000). See also Jonathan Bate, ‘Don’t Fence Him In: New and old Disputes over the copyright of John Clare’, in Times Literary Supplement (21 July 2000), p.14f., and several letters by others culminated in a declaration by the publisher Jonathan Lloyd of Curtis Brown on the subject of intellectual property in general, the history of the Clare copyright in particular, and Robinson’s academic motives in ‘creating a level playing-field so that Clare can at last belong to everyone’ (22 Sept. 2000, p.17). Kövesi replied (29 Sept. 2000), questioning if Robinson can prove he owns the copyright on the strength of his £1 receipt for purchase of same from Joseph Whitaker in 1965 and asserts that there is no proof the sale between Whitaker and the Clare family was legitimate.

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John Clare (2) - John Heath-Stubbs, ‘John Clare and the Peasant Tradition’, in The Penguin New Writing, ed. John Lehmann ([n. iss.] 1947), pp.112-24: gives an account of peasant poetry and its near extinction; recounts the life of Clare (b.1793, Helpston, nr. Peterborough, son of illeg. son of Scottish schoolteacher; knew ballads of Wordsworth (“We are Seven”) and the story of Chatterton; fell in love with Mary Joyce and later married Martha (‘Patty’) Tennant, 1820; regarded Mary, in his madness, as his first wife; apprent. gardener to Marquis of Exeter; ‘By a fortunate series of chances his poems were brought to the attention of John Taylor, Keats’s publisher, who undertook to issue a volume of Clare’s poems [1820] ... an immediate success’ (p.118); knew and corresponded with George Darley and followed his example in writing verse in imitation of the English seventeenth-century poets (p.118); encumbered with debts on disolution of Taylor’s firm, 1825; increasingly nervous and ill; confined to High Beach, in care of Dr. Allen, 1837; hallucinations; delusions of noble descent; indifferent to his real wife; escaped 1841; ate grass; care for my Martha; certified insane (‘addicted to poetical prosing’), and confined to Northampton General Lunatic Asylum; continued to write; d. 1863; bur. Helpston. [Cont.]

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John Clare (2) - cont: Heath-Stubbs (op.cit., 1947) quotes Clare’s poem ‘I am: yet what I am none cares or knows ... ’ in toto [here p.121] and remarks: ‘Clare’s distinctive qualities as a poet are a peculiar sensitiveness and accuracy of observation, an unforced simplicity of language, an an extreme integrity and purity of feeling. The bulk of what he wrote is large. We find these qualities generally diffused throughout his poetry, though somewhat rarely attaining sufficient intensity to take hold upon the memory and imagination. Nevertheless, there is scarcely anything he wrote which does not show some touches of poetic feeling of a kind hardly any other poet can display.’ (p.121.) Further: ‘[...] it is in the pems that he wrote when confined in the asylum that Clare’s genius shows itself most indisputably’; notes kinship with Blake in a ‘visionary apprehension of reality which is beyond the normal’ (p.123). Gave a detailed eye-witness account of the execution of Charles I, and the battle of the Nile ... and possessed some g enuine apprehension of states of being which transcend the personal, and had reached the borderline where where halluncination passes into clairvoyance [...] implicit in his intense sensibility to the proper nature and life of natural objects; in some of his last poems it is expressed in notes of unequalled lyrical purity [quotes ‘Love lies beyond ... ’] Finally: ‘In Clare’s poetry, the old, anonymous tradition of the English countryside suddenly becomes articlate in an individual voice. And he is the last representative of that tradition, which, in his own day, powerful social and economic factors had disrupted. But also, a much as Blake or Shelley, Wordsworth or Coleridge, he claims a place in the authentic comapny of the English romantic poets.’ (p.124; end.) Note: Heath-Stubbs writes on ‘George Crabbe and the Eighteenth Century’ in New Writing, No. 25 (1945).

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Cure of Derry: Heaney’s lines from The Cure of Troy (1990) - ‘History says don’t hope / On this side of the grave. / But then, once in a lifetime / The longed for tidal wave / Of justice can rise up / And hope and history rhyme (p.77)’ - have been quoted by Dick Spring and Mary Robinson at the time of the Forum for Peace and Reconciliation in Dublin, and were later adopted as the banner of the International Ireland Funds.)

Millenium poem: Seamus Heaney, contrib. poem, “Linked Verses”, The Irish Times (30 Dec. 2000).

What I want ...: Dennis O’Driscoll quotes the following remarks made by Heaney in an interview, calling them ‘the most swoon-inducing, hair-bristling quotation’, and presenting them as lines of verse: ‘What I want from poetry / is the preciousness and foundedness / of wise feeling become eternally posthumous in perfect cadence … // You want it to touch you / at the melting point / below the breast-bone / and the beginning of the solar plexus. // You want something sweetening / and at the same time something / unexpected, / something that has come / through constraint into felicity.’ (Q. source but see infra.)

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Text on Internet (Authors’ page): ‘Heaney’s work is filled with images of death and dying, and yet it is also firmly rooted in the life of this world. His tender elegies about friends and family members who have died serve many purposes: they mourn great losses, celebrate those who have gone before us, and recall the solace that remains to us, our memories. When asked recently about his abiding interest in memorialising the people of his life, he replied, “The elegaic Heaney? There’s nothing else.”’ He received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995 (See www.books.com [link].)

Christmas (1999): ‘A Light appeared and the place brightened the way the sky does when heaven’s candle is shining clear (Beowulf, lines 1570-72). Christmas card, printed privately for the the author by Peter Fallon / The Gallery Press, Loughcrew, Oldcastle, Co. Meath, Ireland.

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Haiku: ‘When I visited Japan in 1987, I enjoyed writing poems on fans, and for a period fiddled with the haiku. My favourite appears in Seeing Things - “Dangerous pavements. / But this year I face the ice / With my father’s stick.”’ Speaks also of seminal influence on 20th century poets and remarks especially the ‘down-to-earthness’ of much Japanese poetry: ‘The clarity, the edge of humour, the combination of horse-sense and delicacy, of swift perception and un-clammy delineation. All that is lik a less in how one should write: my own “Japanese” [the poem is “The Strand” in The Spirit Level. (p.21; q. source.)

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Quincunx: Aside from the strategic resemblance - and variance - between quincunx and the fifth province of the Field Day project, the term quincunx has a more classical and theology connotionation, viz.: in Dante’s Fifth Heaven, those who has fought for the faith including Joshua, Judas Maccabeus and Roland, form a quincunx. By a stroke of - presumaby - conscious irony, in James Joyce’s story “Grace”, the men who go together to Fr. Burke’s sermon in Gardiner St. on the mission of reforming Mr. Kernan, find the church so crowded that they cannot sit together and therefore have to form a “quincunx”. The image is considered ironical because the men are not deemed to have fought for anything. (See “Jim & Janet’s Electronic Eclectic” on Dubliners, online; 08.02.2010.)

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Clonmacnoise: the narrative of the man who climbs down to the monastery from a ship in the air and the back up again ‘Out of the marvellous as he had known it’ [viz., Seeing Things - Squarings/Lightenings, poem iii] derives from Kenneth Hurlstone Jackson’s Celtic Miscellany [Routledge 1951; rev. edn. Penguin 1971]- a story which Heaney calls ‘unforgettable’ in interview with Dennis O’Driscoll, remarking that his version is ‘a bit different because I misremember some of the details’ and that, in the original, ‘the boat’s anchor “came right down on to the floor of the church”, whereas I have it hooking onto the altar rails - somehow it enters miraculously through the roof and the crewman shins down a rope into the sanctuary. That wasn’t a deliberate alteration, although [321] I’m sure the image of the first “Lightenings” poem of an unroofed wallstead and an unroofed world must have prompted it.’

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Belief in Action: as patron of the Charity Concern, Heaney has written, ‘Like the immunity system, art work and aid work have a salutary purpose, they are evidence that we are here for good but no guarantee that good will always carry the day’. (See Tony Farmar, Believing in Action: Concern the First Thirty Years, 1968-98, A. & A. Farmar 2003.)

Famous James: The monicker “Famous Seamus” was coined by Australian writer-in-Britain and TV presenter Clive James.

16 Ashley Rd., Belfast, formerly home of Seamus Heaney, was demolished amid protests and newspaper correspondence in 2002. See Patricia Craig, ‘Belfast’, in ‘Letters from ...’, Times Literary Supplement (21 July 2002), pp.16-17. Craig makes honourable mention of C. E. B. Brett, Buildings of Belfast (1967).

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Woodruff Archive: Séamus Heaney donated a large collection of his papers to the Woodruff Library at Emory University in Atlanta, Georgia in Sept. 2003. Dating back to 1964, the papers include correspondence with Brian Friel, Michael Longley, Paul Muldoon, Anthony Hecht, Ted Hughes, Robert Lowell and Robert Pinskey. The poet announced the donation at a reading at Emory in honour of the William Chace, a former president of the University and a scholar of Irish literature. (See Irish Emigrant website.)

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Credo ...?: ‘Seamus Heaney had to wait until he was “nearly fifty / to credit marvels”, according to Seeing Things .’ (See David Wheatley, review of Eilean Ni Chuilleanain, in Times Literary Supplement, 6 Sept., 2002.)

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Henry Vaughan is the author of the line ‘All gone into the world of light’ which Heaney poses as a question in poem xliv of the series “Seeing Things” , in the collection of that name: ‘If a star were confined into a tomb, / Her captive flames must needs burn there; / But when the hand that locked her up, gives room, / She’ll shine through all the sphere. // O Father of eternal life, and all / Created glories under thee! / Resume thy spirit from this world of thrall / Into true liberty. // Either disperse these mists, which blot and fill / My perspective still as they pass, /Or else remove me hence unto that hill, / Where I shall need no glass. (See full version of Vaughan’s poem, attached.)

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Benchmark: Seamus Heaney selected the verse-inscriptions on all the seats in the Seamus Heaney Walk, in the Devil’s Glen, Ashford, Co. Wicklow. The Glen previously belonged to the Synge family. Heaney wrote two verses for seats involved in the nature-walking project. (The Irish Times, 3 March 2007, Weekend.)

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Margaret Hassan - the Irish born aid worker kidnapped and presumed to have been executed by fundamentalist-resistance in Iraq in 2005 - was honoured by minute of silence at a gathering in Univ. College, Galway (NUI), where Seamus Heaney launched Anything Can Happen, his translation of Horace with an accompanying essay on the theme of 21st century conflict, published for Amnesty International. The Irish Times reports: ‘Mr Heaney said Horace’s poem was about an ‘individual in shock’ because his world had been shaken. It was very much the world we were ‘ushered into’ when danger and destruction ‘burst into flames’ at New York’s World Trade Centre on September 11th, 2001, he noted. ‘It registers a moment when an individual no longer feels safe in the world, no longer trusts the sky above his head or the earth beneath his feet. Anything, he suddenly realises, can happen […] / Horace ... has a vision of the world as a place where naked, cruel power is tirelessly and terribly in operation, where humanity itself is red in tooth and claw.’ / The question for us, as for Horace, is how to cope in such circumstances, Mr Heaney said. ‘And the answer has to be, by making the humanist wager, by committing ourselves to the construction of a humane culture, by enshrining in our hearts and in our institutions a respect for spiritual values and human rights.’’ (The Irish Times, 18 Nov. 2004.)

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Wild swans at Lough Beg: Seamus Heaney joined Lady Moyola (widow of James Chichester-Clarke, former Prime Minister of Northern Ireland) in opposing a motorway near Lough Beg, Co. Derry. Heaney, who enjoyed duck-shooting on the lake as a boy, said: ‘I had few ecological concerns when I was a lad, but given the actual condition I couldn’t help respond. More recently I did become more commonly aware of the actual beauty of the landscape and the wetlands.’ Lady Moyola said: ‘It means a lot to him, I think […] We’re not being as difficult as all that. It’s just sacrilege to go through there. They’ve [the DOE] got to be a little more bending. At the moment they are being what I would call arrogant.’ See “The Strand of Lough Beg”: ‘The lowland clays and waters of Lough Beg / Church Island’s spire, its soft treeline of yew. […] ‘There you used to hear guns fired behind the house/ Long before rising time, when duck shooters / Haunted the marigolds and bulrushes / But still were scared to find spent cartridges, / Acrid, brassy, genital, ejected, / On your way across the strand to fetch the cows.’ (See The Irish Times, 18 May 2007.)

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Barack Obama: On St. Patrick’s Day the Irish Taoiseach Brian Cowen presented President Obama with translations of Beowulf and The Cure at Troy by Heaney, each with a personal dedication to Mr Obama written by Heaney himself quoting the description of Beowulf in that poem: “a man who comes in an hour of need ... there was no one else like him alive”. Michelle Obama was given a collection of poems by Eavan Boland while their daughters Malia and Sasha received some Irish children’s books on the same occasion. (See Toby Harbden, ‘Irish poet Seamus Heaney on Barack Obama: “No one else like him alive”’, in Telegraph [UK], 18 March 2009.)

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New Lyric Th.: ‘In 1965 Heaney, then a budding young poet, was called upon to write some lines to commemorate the laying of the foundation stone of a purpose-built theatre upstream from Queen’s University. Now a stanza from the poem has been engraved in sandstone to mark the entrance to the spectacular new Lyric Theatre [...] Heaney rose to read Peter Street at Bankside, the poem, written 44 years previously, who closing lines will mark the new phase: ‘I dedicate to speech, to pomp and show, / This playhouse re-erected for the players. / I set my saw and chisel in the wood / To joint and panel solid metaphors: / The walls a circle, the stand under a hood - / Here all the world’s an act, a word, an echo.’ Its title derrived from a London carpenter [...] who worked on the construction of the Globe [...]’ (See Jane Coyle, ‘A Dramatic Crucible Takes Shape’, in Irish Times, 8 Jan. 2011, Weekend, p.6.) Note: the new theatre has been designed by O’Donnell + Tuomey, architects (See further under Michael Longley, infra).

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Portraits: among numerous portraits of Heaney are an oil by Edward McGuire (1974), set in his cottage at Glanmore, Co. Wicklow, formerly owned by Anne Saddlemyer - now in Ulster Museum; a head by Carolyn Mulholland [best liked by the poet], and a ‘head’ by Louis le Brocquy.

Human Chain? The title of the 2010 collection is traceable to “London tube”, a poem in District and Central: ‘Another level down, the platform thronged. / I re-enter the safety of numbers, / A crowd half straggle-ravelled and half strung / like a human chain […]’ (District and Central, Faber 2006, p.18.)

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Effers: Jane Coyle writes of Faber & Faber: ‘The Faber & Faber company logo of the double lower case letter “f”, precipitated the nickname “the effers” for Faber staff members. But, as poet Seamus Heaney recently pointed out in a tribute in the Times newspaper, there was another “f” word with which we all came to identify. “Over the years,” Heaney wrote, “I myself have had a strong sense of a family.” / There certainly were plenty of family connections – poet Walter de la Mare and directors Richard and Giles de la Mare; husband and wife poets Ted Hughes and Sylvia Plath; writer George Ewart Evans and his son Matthew (now Baron Evans of Temple Guiting), managing director, then chairman of Faber; and, of course, Eliot and his secretary Valerie Fletcher, whom he married in 1957 and who now, at the age of 82, controls his literary estate. / But what Heaney was hinting at is a more subtle, long lasting phenomenon – that once you are received inside the Faber fold, you join an extended family to whom you will be connected for life.’ Also mentions that Charles Monteith, the Faber poetry director, had family connections with Northern Ireland. (See Culture NorthernIreland.org - online; 08.06.2009.)

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Last things: Heaney sent the words ‘Noli timere [do not be afraid]’ to his wife Marie by text from his hospital death-bed on August 30th, as revealed by his son Michael speaking to the congregation at his father’s funeral at the the Sacred Heart Church, Donnybrook, Co. Dublin. Those in attendance included family members Marie (his wife), Michael, Christopher and Catherine Ann (their children); his br. Pat Heaney, his niece Sarah, and his br.-in-law Barry Devlin (Horslips member); statemen President Michael D. Higgins, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, former President Mary McAleese, Martin McGuinness (Dep. First Minister, NI), Gerry Adams (SF Pres.); writers and artists Peter Fallon, Paul Brady, Stephen Rea, Paddy Moloney, Bono, Anthony Cronin, Anne Madden, and many others. The funeral Mass, which was celebrated by Monsignor Brendan Devlin, was broadcast on RTE. Paul Muldoon, who previously spoke on BBC at the announcement of his death, made a speech at the funeral service in which he praised Heaney’s ‘big heart’ and the way he ‘made each of us feel connected - not only to him but to one another’. Peter Fallon Books of condolence were opened in Dublin (Mansion House), Belfast, and Derry (Guildhall). [See reports in Irish Post, BBC News Entertainment, and other papers.]

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Burial at Thebes: The translation was originally commissioned by Dublin’s Abbey Playhouse during what Heaney calls ‘the deplorable Iraq/Bush business’ (i.e., the Gulf War). Heaney has said of it: ‘The New Yorker was looking for something to publish so I gave them the chorus and called it Sophoclean, but it could equally have been called An Open Letter to President Bush. [...] I didn’t want Creon to be a figure of mockery, because in the end there’s a kind of head prefect in me, too. But Antigone goes too far and Creon goes too far. I have a kind of Sophoclean position in between them all.’ (See Jenny McCartney, ‘Seamus Heaney: He’s seen it all’, in Telegraph [UK], 9 Sept. 2007; as supra.)

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Elizabeth Bishop: Heaney chooses Elizabeth Bishop, One Art, as his book of the year (Times Literary Supplement, 2 Dec. 1994). Bishop’s poem “At the Fishhouses” is also the subject of closely reasoned homage in The Government of the Tongue [title essay] where he speaks of her art ‘breaking with her usual inclination to conciliate the social audience […] not basedon subservience but on a respect for other people’s skyness in the ace of poetry’s presumption. [... &c.]’ (Faber, 1988, p.101-4.)

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A. A. [] Alvarez: Alavarez wrote provocatively about Field Work in a review that questions the elevation of each successive Irish poet for star treatment, adding that Heaney is merely ‘a beautiful minor poet’. (Cited in Michael Parker, review of Padraic Fiacc, Ruined Pages, in Fortnight Review, Jan. 1996, p.50.)

Donald Davie writes to Heaney, in a verse allusion to C H. Sisson’s trans., Commedia (1980): ‘I think Sisson / got it, don’t you. Plain Dante, plain as a board / And if flat, flat.’

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Philip Hobsbaum, founder of the QUB poetry circle in 1963, had studied in Cambridge under F. R. Leavis and followed that critic in his general method of “scrutiny” of poems. (See Rory Brennan, review of Heather Clark, The Ulster Renaissance: Poetry in Belfast 1962-1972, OUP 2007, in Books Ireland, May 2007, p.104.) Hobsbaum’s own memoir appeared as ‘The Belfast Group: A Recollection’, in Éire-Ireland 32, 2&3 (Summer/Autumn 1997), pp.173-82.

John Barrell: Note that Heaney’s “sense of place” - lecture of Jan. 1977 publ. in Preoccupations, 1980 - owes much to Barrell’s study of John Clare in The Idea of Landscape and the Sense of Place 1730-1840: An Approach to the Poetry of John Clare (Cambridge UP 1972).

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Kate Marsh: Heaney’s essay on W. B. Yeats’s Tower at Ballylee [presumably the original of ‘The Place of Writing’], first appeared in Writers and Their Homes, ed. Kate Marsh (London; Hamish Hamilton [1993]) - a work reviewed by Eavan Boland in The Irish Times (21 August 1993).

Kevin Whelan: Whelan remarks in connection with Heaney’s poem “The Croppy” that it ‘is still couched essentially within the Catholic-nationalist paradigm which presents the Wexford rebels … as depoliticised peasants’. (Cited in A. T. Q. Stewart’s review of Whelan, Fellowship of Freedom, in The Irish Times, 10 Oct. 1998.)

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Ronald Schuchard: Schuchard calls ‘The Sense of Place’ a ‘disinterested investigation of place’ (Intro., The Place of Writing, Scholar Press 1989), p.4. See Note also Britta Olinder, A Sense of Place: Essays in Post-colonial Literatures (1984), .

Nuala Ní Dhomhnaill: Ní Dhomhnaill has remarked, ‘[S]ometimes I think about Seamus that his great strength is that he is actually a woman - a great big benevolent mountain, standing protectively behind you, like your mother should ...’ (See TLS review of the Southern Review, 15 March 1996, p.27; see also Ní Dhomhnaill, q.v.)

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Tom Flanagan: Heaney’s phrase ‘hope and history’ in The Cure of Troy (1990) resembles the final phrases of Thomas Flanagan’s novel The Year of the French (1979): ‘[I]t is in the brightness of the morning air, as the poet tells us, that hope and memory walk towards us across meadows, radiant as a girl in her first beauty.’ (Quoted in Benedict Kiely, ‘Thomas Flanagan: The Lessons of History’, in A Raid into Dark Corners, 1999, p.168.)

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Mossbawn (1): Heaney’s remarked about “Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication - [1] Sunlight”: ‘I imagined it from the point of view of an infant in the cradle, taking the atmosphere of this house - 1940s traditional Irish white-washed house, thatched, sunlight. Sunlight is a rarer thing in Ireland than it is in New Mexico. So, this is basically a poem which wants to be a Vermeer but it can’t.’ (Interview, Dennis O’Driscoll, Readings and Conversations, Lannon Foundation (Oct. 2003) , p.3; quoted in Julie-Anne Devine, UG Diss., UUC, 2006; for complete text, go to RICORSO, Library, “Criticism” via index, or see direct.)

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