Sunday, September 1, 2013

TRIBUTE TO SEAMUS HEANEY 1939-2013

WORLD'S GREAT POET HAS DIED. 

WE REMEMBER TRIBUTE TO SEAMUS HEAVEY Given When He Was Still Living




Otherworldly hush descends for Seamus Heaney’s readings in Paris

Irish poet’s 90-minute performance the highlight of month-long Marché de la Poésie festival


Seamus Heaney at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Photograph: Des Harris/The Picture Desk
Seamus Heaney at the Centre Culturel Irlandais in Paris. Photograph: Des Harris/The Picture Desk





  Irish, Americans, British and French . . . some braved rain and a rail strike to queue outside the Irish College for up to two hours for Seamus Heaney’s reading last night. It was the high point of the month-long Marché de la Poésie festival, where Ireland is the guest of honour, and a key event in Culture Connects, the programme organised by Dublin to mark its presidency of the EU.
It was also the birthday of William Butler Yeats. Thirteen is a lucky number for Irish Nobel laureates: Heaney and Samuel Beckett share April 13th as their birth date.
Jimmy Deenihan, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, compared Heaney to the earlier Nobel winners. Heaney smiled when Deenihan praised him for “immortalising Irish bogland”, and when the Minister said he’d given the best advice to politicians: “Whatever you say, say nothing.”
Jacques Darras, the French poet, translator and president of the festival, said Heaney “like WB Yeats, has this extraordinary faculty of reconciling sound and meaning”, and asked the 700-strong audience “to hear how intelligent his music is”.
Through 50 years of poetry, Heaney has been faithful to the metaphors of spade and pen, his French translator Philippe Hersant noted.
“Yeats used to say, “If you know anything about my work, you’ll know The Lake Isle of Inisfree,” Heaney said. “I have to say the same: If you know anything about my work, you’ll know Digging.” After the last stanza of his first poem, “Between my finger and my thumb/The squat pen rests./I’ll dig with it,” the audience burst into applause.

Recitation
Blackbirds sang in the courtyard, prompting Heaney to recite from memory The Blackbird of Belfast Lough. A French actor read St Kevin and the Blackbird in translation. The Irish College was suspended in an otherworldly hush, as Heaney read from his translation of the Breton poet Guillevic: “I had my existience. I was there./Me in place and the place in me.”

The Poem"Digging" by   Seamus Heaney who has been for me The Poet's Poet.


Seamus Heaney  (1939-2013)


Digging


Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.


- from Death of a Naturalist (1966)

1 comment:

Glenda C. Beall said...

You introduced me to him in one of your classes and I really enjoy his poetry.