So, we’ve lost our great poet. Seamus Heaney, today called ‘our greatest Irish poet since Yeats’, has passed away. Not everyone is into poetry and the man himself even said, “I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.” We agree and have oft-turned to his words for balm in rough times, or times when we just need to be inspired. Or taught, or led, or touched…
The much-beloved wordsmith has left us with a wonderful body of work that has lingered in the hearts of many via his sublime selection of words, chosen and formed into some of the most striking sentences we’ve ever read. How he had the skill to harness such magic, such humanity, such elevation of the ordinary to something ethereal and blessed is beyond us. Some people have all the luck, right? But it’s us who were lucky – we had him.
And now he’s gone. The light around Ireland is a little dimmer tonight.
Seamus we wish you well. And we thank you.
(We couldn’t pick our favourite poem as there are too many, but here’s an excerpt from one we love, written about the death of his mother…)
When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.
So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives —
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.
By Ellie Balfe