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RIP Seamus Heaney


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#1 Ray

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 05:33 AM

The Irish Times obituary appears here

 

One of my favorite lines from his translation of Beowulf, about Beowulf himself:  "drunk, he slew no hearth-companions."



#2 kfw

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 07:57 AM

The Irish Times obituary appears here

 

One of my favorite lines from his translation of Beowulf, about Beowulf himself:  "drunk, he slew no hearth-companions."

 

I'm grateful to him for his wonderful recording of that translation, because I never much cared for Beowulf before. Does anyone know The Burial at Thebes, his translation of Antigone? I saw it performed in Dublin in 2004. I guess now would be the time for me to finally read it.



#3 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:08 AM

The Irish Times obituary appears here

 

One of my favorite lines from his translation of Beowulf, about Beowulf himself:  "drunk, he slew no hearth-companions."

 

Oh, sad news! I love to read Heaney's translation of Beowulf aloud -- he mined the particular sonorities of the English language for everything that they're worth and the poem fairly leaps off the page at you.

 

A memento mori from Heaney's Beowulf (lines 1758-68) -- grim, but gorgeous to read. 

 

[Heaney's puts this synopsis in the margin: Beowulf is exhorted to be mindful of the fragility of life]

 

O flower of warriors ...

For a brief while your strength is in bloom

but it fades quickly; and soon there will follow

illness or the sword to lay you low,

or a sudden fire or surge of water

or jabbing blade or javelin from the air

or repellant age. Your piercing eye

will dim and darken; and death will arrive,

dear warrior, to sweep you away.

 

RIP



#4 Kathleen O'Connell

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 08:20 AM

 

The Irish Times obituary appears here

 

One of my favorite lines from his translation of Beowulf, about Beowulf himself:  "drunk, he slew no hearth-companions."

 

I'm grateful to him for his wonderful recording of that translation, because I never much cared for Beowulf before.

 

 

There's a recording of Heaney reading Beowulf on YouTube. Part One is here.  Part Two is here.



#5 dirac

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Posted 30 August 2013 - 10:28 AM

Thank you for posting this very sad news, Ray. Unexpected, too. I realize he was 74, but still. I wonder what happened exactly. RIP.

 

The NYT obit, here, which quotes the famous first lines from "Digging," the first poem in his first collection:

 

The cold smell of potato mould, 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.

 

I remember him saying that in retrospect he thought there was a mite too much chest-thumping in that declaration. He lived up to it, though.

 

There's much more to his body of work - his range was extraordinary. Offhand I think of Station Island, a lovely collection.The Government of the Tongue, a collection of essays, has some fine things in it.

 

Another quote from the NYT obit:

 

His father, Patrick, a cattle-dealer and farmer, was a dour, unliterary man, suspicious of verbiage. His mother was not literary, but, Mr. Heaney recalled, she used to “recite lists of affixes and suffixes, and Latin roots, with their English meanings, rhymes that formed part of her early schooling in the early part of the century.”

 



#6 dirac

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Posted 31 August 2013 - 10:25 PM

He'd had a stroke some years ago, evidently. I hope he didn't suffer much from it.

 

The obit was on the top fold of the first page of the Times, with a good-sized picture.



#7 carterstephen

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 06:05 AM

When I was a lowly 20-something public relations staff writer at Villanova University, I had the opportunity to interview Heaney for the school's alumni magazine.  Even though I had never heard of him, it was made abundantly clear to me how important he was and I was nervous.  Not to worry!  After dinner at a professor's home (he attended, I didn't!) we sat in the living room by the fire and had a lovely time talking.  He couldn't have been more warm and encouraging and the published interview turned out splendidly.  I read that he was 74 at his death and I realized that I was probably the same age as his children. 



#8 sandik

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 07:41 AM

When I was a lowly 20-something public relations staff writer at Villanova University, I had the opportunity to interview Heaney for the school's alumni magazine.  Even though I had never heard of him, it was made abundantly clear to me how important he was and I was nervous.  Not to worry!  After dinner at a professor's home (he attended, I didn't!) we sat in the living room by the fire and had a lovely time talking.  He couldn't have been more warm and encouraging and the published interview turned out splendidly.  I read that he was 74 at his death and I realized that I was probably the same age as his children.

Thanks for sharing such a warm memory!



#9 kfw

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Posted 03 September 2013 - 08:47 AM

 

When I was a lowly 20-something public relations staff writer at Villanova University, I had the opportunity to interview Heaney for the school's alumni magazine.  Even though I had never heard of him, it was made abundantly clear to me how important he was and I was nervous.  Not to worry!  After dinner at a professor's home (he attended, I didn't!) we sat in the living room by the fire and had a lovely time talking.  He couldn't have been more warm and encouraging and the published interview turned out splendidly.  I read that he was 74 at his death and I realized that I was probably the same age as his children.

Thanks for sharing such a warm memory!

 

 

Yes, thanks. Robert Pinsky said on National Public Radio that while great writers are "often not very nice people," Heaney was a "mensch."




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