April A to Z: H is for Heaney


By Niall McArdle

It’s been 7 months since the sudden death of Seamus Heaney, and for those who care about poetry the tragic loss is still fresh,. By the way, April in the United States is National Poetry Month.

His life and work will be celebrated on April 23rd at the National Concert Hall in Dublin. The tribute is part of Dublin City’s One City, One Book celebration. The book this year is If Ever You Go: A Map of Dublin in Poetry and Song. Heaney’s work features in the anthology.

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Taking part in the Heaney tribute will be Gabriel Byrne, Liam O’Flynn, Lisa Hannigan, Dónal Lunny, Michéal Ó Súilleabháin, Zoë Conway, Paul Brady, and Paul Simon. 


The show is sold out but will be broadcast on RTE Radio One on April 26th.

The loss of Heaney is a terrible thing, of course, but Irish poetry still thrives.

Strange how things in the offing, once they’re sensed, 
Convert to things foreknown; 
And how what’s come upon is manifest

Only in light of what has been gone through.
Seventh heaven may be
The whole truth of a sixth sense come to pass.

At any rate, when light breaks over me
The way it did on the road beyond Coleraine
Where wind got saltier, the sky more hurried

And silver lamé shivered on the Bann
Out in mid-channel between the painted poles,
That day I’ll be in step with what escaped me.

Seamus Heaney, Squarings xlviii


Today’s A to Z blogger is also a poet.

6 thoughts on “April A to Z: H is for Heaney

  1. Hi Niall, thanks for the linkage. Here’s one of my favorite poems of all time:
    When all the others were away at Mass by Seamus Heaney

    In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984
    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 the 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.


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