Seamus Heaney was an exceptional poet, playwright, and translator, who opened readers’ eyes to the natural world and the often grim ironies of human existence. He was down-to-earth and accessible but never superficial. His words penetrate deeply and it is common to find oneself returning to individual phrases frequently.
Born in Northern Ireland but with affinities more strongly Irish than British, his importance and relevance extended far beyond the British Isles. He won many plaudits and prizes, including professorships at both Harvard and Oxford, but the greatest public recognition came with winning the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature (what he referred to in private as ‘the N thing’. He was never swayed by such things, however. He continued writing, consistent in his passions, observations and wisdom until the very end (his translation of Virgil’s Aeneid Book VI being published posthumously in 2016).