Belfast Telegraph

Seamus Heaney: memorable lines

By Robert Dex

Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney's work has been read and recited by generations of schoolchildren and world statesmen alike.

Here are some of his most memorable lines:

:: "Between my finger and my thumb, The squat pen rests; snug as a gun" - from his poem Digging.

:: "When History says, don't hope, On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme" - from the play The Cure At Troy.

The lines were quoted by then US president Bill Clinton in a speech about the Northern Ireland peace process delivered in Londonderry in 1995.

:: "It's like being a little foothill at the bottom of a mountain range, you hope you just live up to it" - Heaney on receiving the Nobel Prize and being regarded as the equal of WB Yeats.

:: "Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple, He lay in the four foot box as in a cot. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year" - from his poem Mid-term Break.

:: "It was like opening the back door of our own house, looking out on the fields" - Heaney on the influence of reading his fellow poet, Patrick Kavanagh.

:: "The life of poetry at its most vital is a life of fear I think and panic that it will leave" - Heaney describing his worry that his poetic inspiration might run out.

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