Belfast Telegraph

Friday 19 September 2014

The perfect poetic tribute to legend Seamus Heaney

The late Seamus Heaney with fellow poet Michael Longley
The late Seamus Heaney with fellow poet Michael Longley

The death of Seamus Heaney has cast a huge shadow over the On Home Ground poetry festival he was scheduled to launch.

It was left to old friend Michael Longley to acknowledge his passing and reaffirm the consoling power of art.

He did this with a beautifully constructed reading on Saturday at the Laurel Villa's tented venue in Magherafelt.

He opened with two of Heaney's own works – Harvest Bow and Sunlight, the latter Heaney's in memoriam to his mother "a sunlit absence". This set the tone for a series of poems where Longley conjured up other ghosts from his past, the painter Gerard Dillon, and winningly, pub owner and philosopher Charlie Gaffney in Lifeboat where the poet imagines for himself "the perfect death" swept up with the shavings at closing time.

But though he finished with life affirming works dedicated to his grandchildren, the theme of mortality echoed powerfully in new poems about his late twin brother Peter.

Longley is adept at using Homer as source material, as in the poem Apparition where the ghost of Patroclus appears to Achilles and whose last lines "My brother, my twin" brought a gasp of sympathy from the rapt audience.

The standing ovation was richly deserved.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Nightlife Galleries

More

Latest Entertainment News

Latest Music News

Latest Film & TV News

Latest Eating Out News

Horoscopes

Your Horoscopes by Russell Grant

Virgo:

A home improvement project will appeal to your love of problem solving. You'll enjoy finding good materials at a decent price. If you're not sure how to tackle a job, check out an illustrated manual or online guide that will make a seemingly complicated task very easy. Organising a family get together could be in the cards. Start looking for a facility where you can gather together without lots of trouble. This venue doesn't have to be luxurious, just well located.More