Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Seamus Heaney - a legend whose genius will live on forever

The death of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney at 74 marks the end of the glittering career of one of the best-known and most loved poets in English literature.

He has been described rightly as the most gifted Irish poet since WB Yeats, and by common consent he was one of the most profound and accessible poets on the world stage in recent decades.

His charming manner and relaxed ambience were legendary, but he was also a highly creative poet whose use of language inspired generations of readers, for whom he provided a sometimes spiritual dimension in trying to understand the world and human nature.

He was a traveller on the journey of life and had the skill and humanity to bring his readers along with him, through his powers of observation and his unique skill in the English language. Seamus Heaney was an Ulsterman, and despite his worldly fame and stellar literary reputation, he never forgot his Northern roots.

This was evident in his lifelong connection with Bellaghy, and through his unwavering loyalty to Queen's University to which, by his own admission, he owed so much.

In return the university basked in his reflected glory, and it also recognised the achievement of one of its most distinguished alumni by creating a Centre of Poetry and also establishing a major library, both in his name.

Seamus Heaney made no secret of his republican leanings, but in later years he dined with the Queen in Dublin Castle, and also observed more recently in a newspaper article that in his opinion there would not be a united Ireland. Although Heaney's work alluded often to the Troubles, he remained above politics, and his observations had lessons for people on all sides.

He also possessed that rare quality of being acclaimed and loved by people from all backgrounds and from all parts of the world.

Despite his fame he remained modest and down to earth, and became even more endearing because of this.

Sadly Seamus Heaney is dead, but his voice is not stilled, and his poetry will live on.

Belfast Telegraph

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