January 12, 2013

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Irish poet, essayist, critic, playwright, editor, translator, lecturer and the winner of the Nobel Prize in Literature.
  • Full Name: Seamus Justin Heaney
  • Pseudonym: Incertus   
  • Birth: 13 April 1939
  • Place of Birth: Northeast of Belfast in Northern Ireland
  • Father: Patrick Heaney
  • Mother: Margaret Kathleen Heaney (née McCann)
  • Siblings: two sisters and six brothers
  • Marriage: 1965
  • Spouse: Marie Devlin
  • Number of Children: 03
  • Education: St. Columb's College, Queen's University
  • Known for: his poetry which is noted for its portrayal of beautiful surroundings of Irish rural life as well as for its glimpse into the Irish historical and political events
  • Criticised for: for being an apologist and mythologizer
  • Influences:  T. S. Eliot, Robert Frost, Wilfred Owen, William Butler Yeats, William Shakespeare, Patrick Kavanagh, Derek Mahon, George Byron, Geoffrey Chaucer, Herbert McCabe, John Keats, John Millington Synge, William Wordsworth, John Montague
  • Influenced: Nick Laird, Eavan Boland


“Poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentally self-delighting inventiveness, its joy in being a process of language as well as a representation of things in the world.” Seamus Heaney, The Redress of Poetry

Major Themes:

  • Nature
  • Love
  • The relationship between contemporary issues and historical patterns
  • Legend and myth

Notable Works:

Poetry Collections
  • Death of a Naturalist, Oxford University Press, 1966.
  • Door into the Dark, Oxford University Press, 1969.
  • Wintering Out, Faber, 1972, Oxford University Press, 1973.
  • North, Faber, 1975, Oxford University Press, 1976.
  • Field Work, Farrar, Straus, 1979.
  • Poems: 1965-1975, Farrar, Straus, 1980.
  • (Adapter) Sweeney Astray: A Version from the Irish, Farrar, Straus, 1984.
  • Station Island, Farrar, Straus, 1984.
  • The Haw Lantern, Farrar, Straus, 1987.
  • New and Selected Poems 1966-1987, Farrar, Straus, 1990.
  • Seeing Things: Poems, Farrar, Straus, 1991.
  • The Midnight Verdict, Gallery, 1993.
  • The Spirit Level, Farrar, Straus, 1996.
  • Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996, Farrar, 1998.
Poetry Chapbooks
  • Eleven Poems, Festival Publications (Belfast), 1965.
  • (With David Hammond and Michael Longley) Room to Rhyme, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, 1968.
  • A Lough Neagh Sequence, edited by Harry Chambers and Eric J. Morten, Phoenix Pamphlets Poets Press (Manchester), 1969.
  • Boy Driving His Father to Confession, Sceptre Press (Surrey), 1970.
  • Night Drive: Poems, Richard Gilbertson (Devon), 1970.
  • Land, Poem-of-the-Month Club, 1971.
  • Servant Boy, Red Hanrahan Press (Detroit), 1971.
  • Stations, Ulsterman Publications (Belfast), 1975.
  • Bog Poems, Rainbow Press (London), 1975.
  • (With Derek Mahon) In Their Element, Arts Council of Northern Ireland, 1977.
  • After Summer, Deerfield Press, 1978.
  • Hedge School: Sonnets from Glanmore, C. Seluzichi (Oregon), 1979.
  • Sweeney Praises the Trees, (New York), 1981.
  • The Fire i' the Flint: Reflections on the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins, Oxford University Press, 1975.
  • Robert Lowell: A Memorial Address and Elegy, Faber, 1978.
  • Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978, Farrar, Straus, 1980.
  • The Government of the Tongue: Selected Prose, 1978-1987, Farrar, Straus, 1988.
  • The Place of Writing, Scholars Press, 1989.
  • The Redress of Poetry, Farrar, Straus, 1995.
  • (With Alan Brownjohn) New Poems: 1970-71, Hutchinson, 1971.
  • Soundings: An Annual Anthology of New Irish Poetry, Blackstaff Press (Belfast), 1972.
  • Soundings II, Blackstaff Press, 1974.
  • (With Ted Hughes) The Rattle Bag (poetry), Faber, 1982.
  • The Essential Wordsworth, Ecco Press, 1988.
  • Also editor of The May Anthology of Oxford and Cambridge Poetry, 1993.
  • (With John Montague) The Northern Muse (sound recording), Claddagh Records, 1969.
  • (Contributor) The Writers: A Sense of Ireland, O'Brien Press (Dublin), 1979.
  • Advent Parish Programme, State Mutual Book & Periodical Service, 1989.
  • Lenten Parish Programme: Renewal of Personal & Community Life through Prayer and Scripture, State Mutual Book & Periodical Service, 1989.
  • The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles Philotetes (drama), Farrar, Straus, 1991.
  • Crediting Poetry: the Nobel Lecture, Farrar, Straus, 1996.
  • (Translator) Beowulf, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1999.

Did you Know?

  • Heaney also wrote several works under the pseudonym Incertus
  • His first collection of poetry was Death of a Naturalist (1966)
  • Heaney translated several important literary works
  • In the year 1995 he won the Nobel Prize in Literature
  • Heaney was born on a fifty-acre farm called Mossbawn in the townland of Tamniarn, County Derry, Northern Ireland
  • He grew up as a country boy and attended local school
  • At present he resides in Dublin
  • Heaney's poems first came to public attention in the mid-1960s when he was active as one of a group of poets who were subsequently recognized as constituting something of a "Northern School" within Irish writing
  • Heaney departed from Mossbawn at the age of 12 after securing a scholarship to St. Columb's College, a Catholic boarding school situated in the city of Derry
  • Heaney's departure from his birthplace could not detach him from its memory since much of his poetry is about country life
  • Heaney's brother, Christopher, was killed in a road accident at the age of four while Heaney was studying at St. Columb's College
  • Heaney wrote two of his poems: Mid-Term Break and The Blackbird of Glanmore in memory of Christopher
  • Heaney's study of Latin and Irish at St. Columb's College and subsequently Anglo-Saxon at Queen's University played an important role in the development of his poetic career
  • In recent years, he has been the recipient of several honorary degrees; he is a member of Aosdana, the Irish academy of artists and writers, and a Foreign Member of The American Academy of Arts and Letters
  • Heaney has attracted a readership on several continents and has won prestigious literary awards in England, Ireland, and the United States
  • Heaney did well, and in 1957 he entered Queen’s University, Belfast, where he had been offered another scholarship, this time to study for a degree in English Language and Literature
  • Although the Head of English at Queen’s encouraged Heaney to apply to Oxford to complete his postgraduate study, lack of confidence led him to opt to go to St. Joseph’s College for postgraduate course
  • After graduating from Queen’s University, Belfast in 1961, Heaney taught secondary school for a year and then lectured in colleges and universities in Belfast and Dublin
  • In the course of his career, Seamus Heaney has always contributed to the promotion of artistic and educational causes, both in Ireland and abroad
  • He was both the Harvard and the Oxford Professor of Poetry
  • Heaney was made a Commandeur de l'Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996
  • Besides being a Nobel Prize winner in Literature, Heaney also received the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize (1968), the E. M. Forster Award (1975), the PEN Translation Prize (1985), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread Prizes (1996 and 1999)
  • Heaney was awarded the Lifetime Recognition Award from the Griffin Trust For Excellence In Poetry on June 6, 2012

Media Collection

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney with his wife Marie, and children, c.late 70s.

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney


 “Seamus Heaney.” Wikipedia. 2012. Wikimedia Foundation, Inc. 25 November 2012
< http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamus_Heaney>.

“Seamus Heaney.” Encyclopædia Britannica. 2012. Encyclopædia Britannica, Inc., Inc.
25 November 2012 
< http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/258249/Seamus-Heaney>.

“Seamus Justin Heaney.” Gale Cengage Learning. 2012. Cengage Learning, Inc.
25 November 2012 
< http://www.gale.cengage.com/free_resources/poets/bio/heaney_s.htm>.

“The Nobel Prize in Literature 1995: Seamus Heaney.” Nobelprize.org. 1995.
The Nobel Foundation. 25 November 2012 
< http://www.nobelprize.org/nobel_prizes/literature/laureates/1995/heaney-bio.html>.
Tanvir Shameem Tanvir Shameem is not the biggest fan of teaching, but he is doing his best to write on various topics of language and literature just to guide thousands of students and researchers across the globe. You can always find him experimenting with presentation, style and diction. He will contribute as long as time permits. You can find him on:


Post a Comment

Random Articles