Seamus Heaney:The Mind of a Brilliant Irish Poet
“Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.” This quote was once said by famous Northern Irish poet Seamus Heaney at a book signing, it is also what has motivated many young poets today to continue writing even when there is “no hope”. Heaney is not only a poet but a playwright, translator, lecturer and recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. He is most famous for his work translating the epic Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf. It was considered monumental because in his translation he successfully revamped a medieval work, which the literary world had grown tired of. Heaney is a naturalist poet who is inspired first by the great modernist poets of his age, the workshop of poets dubbed “The Belfast Group” , and breaks of solitude in his native Northern Ireland.
While enrolled in university Heaney began exploring his love for poetry. He discovered the earthy naturalistic poems he loved so much actually had a genre of its own full of expert poets, which he later joined. In a 1979 interview he said “it was poetry with a thrilling physical texture I loved. I remember the first time I read John Webster's plays responding to them with enormous pleasure, and there is in Webster that very dark brooding violence in the imagery, very physical, scalding, foul images. I took great pleasure from that.” He then went on do discover Patrick Kavanagh who is known primarily for accounts of Irish life through everyday references and experiences. His most famous work The Great Hunger, which was relatively new described the hardship of the rural life, which resonated deeply with Heaney who grew up on an Irish farm. He was then introduced to Ted Hughes poems at a Library in Belfast. Reading Hughes Lupercal inspired him to find the medium about which to write; “there was again a poem called "View of a Pig" and in my childhood we'd killed pigs on the farm, and I'd seen pigs shaved, hung up, and so...
Cited: "Heaney, Seamus Justin (1939-)." Encyclopedia of World Biography. Detroit: Gale, 1998. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 19 Feb. 2012.
Jones, Paul. "Biography: Seamus Heaney ." Internet Poetry Archive. University of North Carolina Press, 2006. Web. 19 Feb. 2012.
Randall, James. "From the Archive: An Interview with Seamus Heaney." Ploughshares 37.1 (2011): 173+. Gale Biography In Context. Web. 19 Feb. 2012.
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