Celebrated and prolific poet Seamus Heaney died in Dublin today after a brief illness. Winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, he was described by Robert Lowell as the “most important Irish poet since Yeats.” In 2008, on NPR’s program All Things Considered Mr. Heaney said: “I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one’s own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing.” In addition to his poetry, he was praised for his translations, including his version of Beowulf. Read both the NYT article and the NPR article here. And check the EPL catalog for his works. Here is his poem The Railway Children (from Station Island) that he read on NPR:
When we climbed the slopes of the cutting
We were eye-level with the white cups
Of the telegraph poles and the sizzling wires.
Like lovely freehand they curved for miles
East and miles west beyond us, sagging
Under their burden of swallows.
We were small and thought we knew nothing
Worth knowing. We thought words traveled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops,
Each one seeded full with the light
Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves
So infinitesimally scaled
We could stream through the eye of a needle.