Listening Back To Seamus Heaney

With the death of Nobel-Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney, we listen back to our 2006 interview with him.

File photo of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Heaney, whose lyrical works portray the pain of sectarian strife and the joy of growing up in a Roman Catholic farming family. (AP)

File photo of the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Heaney, whose lyrical works portray the pain of sectarian strife and the joy of growing up in a Roman Catholic farming family. (AP)

The great Irish poet Seamus Heaney died Friday in Dublin.  He was 74.  Heaney was a Nobel Prize winner who wrote poetry of such earthy, brilliant power and grace that it brought hard men to tears, women too, and the whole world to remember the glory of a great poem.

Seamus Heaney’s work ranged over myth and legend, politics and violence and the classics.  And over soil and farm and sweat and tools.  The moment of writing was, for him he said, a moment of joy.  The moment of reading was for us the same.

This hour, On Point:  we listen back to a 2006 interview with the great now-late Seamus Heaney.

– Tom Ashbrook


Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and Nobel Prize laureate. He passed away last week at the age of 74.

From Tom’s Reading List

The New York Times: Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet of Soil and Strife, Dies — “Mr. Heaney, who was born in Northern Ireland but moved to Dublin in his later years, is recognized as one of the major poets of the 20th century. His fellow poet Robert Lowell described Mr. Heaney as the ‘most important Irish poet since Yeats.'”

BBC: Seamus Heaney death: Irish reaction — “Irish President Michael D Higgins said: ‘Generations of Irish people will have been familiar with Seamus’ poems. Scholars all over the world will have gained from the depth of the critical essays, and so many rights organisations will want to thank him for all the solidarity he gave to the struggles within the republic of conscience.'”

The Telegraph: Seamus Heaney: his 10 best poems

“Death of a Naturalist
From Death of a Naturalist, published 1966:

‘But best of all was the warm thick slobber

Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water

In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring

I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied

Specks to range on window-sills at home,

On shelves at school, and wait and watch until

The fattening dots burst into nimble-

Swimming tadpoles.'”

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