I cannot help but be saddened to read of the death at age 74 of Seamus Heaney in Dublin.
Somehow, perhaps because he fit the role of the Irish poet so naturally and so completely, it felt like Heaney was around forever. Insofar as Heaney embodied the Irish bard, a figure that has been a part of Irish history and culture for centuries, he was.
Heaney had the good fortune to have been born in a land and culture in which poetry is seen as a manifestation and exaltation of the human spirit; as something to be breathed and recited and lived, not merely dissected in a classroom. And Ireland had the good fortune to have Heaney to carry on that ancient tradition with such simple mastery. Heaney’s verse has the honed down beauty and economy of a master carpenter or sculptor. Not a word or even a syllable is ever wasted. His eye was ever open, fearless and ever searching for that which is vital. He tried to pass that vitality on to us, his readers. It is there, forever waiting to be encountered and felt.
Heaney will be missed. I pray God another will rise to continue his nobel and essential labor.
To hear Heaney read his poem, “Digging,” click here.