Seamus Heaney, the Nobel laureate and leading Irish poet, has died at age 74 after a very brief illness.
If you have to ask the relation between Irish writers and Irish politics and history, you don’t know Ireland well enough — and it’s not enough to know that Heaney was friends with Ireland’s president Michael D. Higgins. An obituary from RTE is here.
Here’s one of my favorite poems, ‘Postscript,’ perhaps appropriate enough for Heaney’s passing today:
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.