Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

The New York Times calls Seamus Heaney a "poet of the everyday," and the Irish poet, teacher, critic, and translator likens his pen to his father’s spade, a tool with which he excavates truths both large and small. A master of form, Heaney’s elegantly constructed poems are grounded in the mundane realities of the everyday, even as they are electrified by the complexities of a politicized world. His poems are both accessible and elevating, his language earthy and expansive. Poetry, Heaney says, can “entrance you for a moment above the pool of your own consciousness and your own possibilities.”

In awarding him the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, the Swedish Academy praised his ability to “exalt everyday miracles and the living past.” A public and national poet in the same vein as W.B. Yeats, Heaney’s vivid evocation of both the sensory memories of his rural Irish boyhood and the national trauma of Northern Irish strife have led Derek Walcott to dub him the “guardian spirit of Irish poetry.”

In addition to the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature, Heaney has received numerous other honors, including the Whitbread Prize and the Writer in Residence Award from the American Irish Foundation. He is the author of 12 books of poetry, several works of criticism, and a diverse range of well-received translations, including his internationally best-selling adaptation of Beowulf, and, most recently, The Burial at Thebes, a new translation of Sophocles’ Antigone. Heaney divides his time between Dublin, Ireland, and Cambridge, Massachusetts, where he is Ralph Waldo Emerson Poet in Residence at Harvard University.


Poems by Seamus Heaney

The Haw Lantern


The Clothes Shrine


(Available as a broadside.)






Poetry Center Reading:

Fall 2004