Death of a natural

Aug 30, 2013, 12:06 PM

30th August 2013: The sad news was announced today of Seamus Heaney's death. Airwaves and social media in Ireland are abuzz with kind words about this most generous and avuncular of Irishmen. A collective keening or mourning is taking place in Ireland and anywhere where there's an appreciate of language and its power to capture all the deep emotions that swirl through our beings on a daily basis.

Heaney's great friend, Ted Hughes, once said that the only thing that distinguishes what we call poetry from the other literary arts was that it arrived from 'the place of ultimate suffering and decision' in us. This statement became a sort of creed for Heaney's view on poetry. His easy eloquence, his warmth, his self-deprecation and his profound insight into the human condition will be sorely missed. Thankfully, he shared his thoughts through carefully crafted words for generations to savour. Go n-éirí an bóthar leat.

In this audio piece, Liam Neeson reads Heaney's 'The Cure at Troy' from the 1998 album, Across the Bridge of Hope. All rights reserved Commenting on Heaney's death, Neeson said 'Ireland and Northern Ireland especially has lost a part of its artistic soul. He crafted through his poetry who we are as a species and the living soil that we toiled in. By doing so he defined our place in the Universe'.

Human beings suffer, They torture one another, They get hurt and get hard. No poem or play or song Can fully right a wrong Inflicted and endured. 

The innocent in gaols Beat on their bars together. A hunger-striker's father Stands in the graveyard dumb. The police widow in veils Faints at the funeral home. 

History says, don't hope On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme. 

So hope for a great sea-change On the far side of revenge. Believe that further shore Is reachable from here. Believe in miracle And cures and healing wells. 

Call miracle self-healing: The utter, self-revealing Double-take of feeling. If there's fire on the mountain Or lightning and storm And a god speaks from the sky 

That means someone is hearing The outcry and the birth-cry Of new life at its term.

The map shows the location of Bellaghy Bawn, which was opened to the public in 1996. The centre has resources on site including a film made for the bawn as well as a collection of Heaney's broadcasts and poetry. Bellaghy lies in the heart of the County Derry countryside where Heaney grew up on a farm in Mossbawn, a place his wife Marie says holds the key to her husband. "It's his paradise, his Eden, all he's ever wanted to do is go back." On the 2nd of September, he had his wish granted when he was buried in the local cemetery beside his younger brother. The centre is now a dedicated Heaney Museum since the poet's death:

Audio: Liam Neeson, 1998
Audio text: Seamus Heaney, 1990
Text: John Ward, 2013

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