To all lovers of the perfectly weighed word, Seamus Heaney was said to have offered hope on this side of the grave.
Heaney, 74, died Friday in a Dublin hospital some eighteen years after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature and gained global recognition as Ireland’s greatest poet since William Butler Yeats. Heaney, Ireland’s foremost poet won the Nobel literature prize in 1995. His death comes after a half-century exploring the wild beauty of Ireland and the political torment within the nation’s soul.
Heaney’s family and publisher, Faber & Faber, say in a statement that Heaney died Friday in a Dublin hospital.
Commenting on Heaney’s passing on Friday, Saint Lucian Nobel Laureate Derek Walcott said; “he was a great poet and a friend. In fact he was like a brother to me.” Seamus Heaney last visited Saint Lucia in January of 2008 during Nobel Laureate week.
The master poet left behind a half-century’s body of work that sought to capture the essence of his experience: the sour smells and barren beauty of Irish landscapes, the haunting loss of loved ones and of memory itself, and the tormented soul of his native Northern Ireland.
As one of the world’s premier classicists, he translated and interpreted ancient works of Athens and Rome for modern eyes and ears. A bear of a man with a signature mop of untamed silvery hair, he gave other writers and fans time, attention, advice — and left a legacy of one-on-one, life-changing moments encouraged by his self-deprecating, common-man touch.