R.I.P Seamus Heaney, a Giant of a Poet and True Gent

Seamus Heaney Poetry

poetry by seamus heaney Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney from Castledawson, Co Derry has died at the age of 74-years-old. As a huge fan of his work, especially his translation of Beowulf, it is a sad day and our hearts go out to his family and close friends.

Since I was a young man I have collected most of Heaneys’ poetry books, translations and Essays. I have also been lucky enough to meet him twice, both time in Galway and one time to be in his company along with Michael Longley at a lunch in Galway city, a wonderful man and true gent.

A sad day and a poet that will always be remembered, I leave this with my favourite Heaney poem, Oysters from his book Field Work.

Seamus Heaney, “Oysters”

poetry by seamus heaneyOur shells clacked on the plates.
My tongue was a filling estuary,
My palate hung with starlight:
As I tasted the salty Pleiades
Orion dipped his foot into the water.

Alive and violated
They lay on their beds of ice:
Bivalves: the split bulb
And philandering sigh of ocean.
Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

We had driven to the coast
Through flowers and limestone
And there we were, toasting friendship,
Laying down a perfect memory
In the cool thatch and crockery.

poetry by seamus heaneyOver the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
The Romans hauled their oysters south to Rome:
I saw damp panniers disgorge
The frond-lipped, brine-stung
Glut of privilege

And was angry that my trust could not repose
In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
Leaning in from the sea. I ate the day
Deliberately, that its tang
Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.

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