Seamus Heaney - Quotes

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I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing. ---->>>

Nowadays, what an award gives is a sense of solidarity with the poetry guild, as it were: sustenance coming from the assent of your peers on the judging panel. ---->>>

The faking of feelings is a sin against the imagination. ---->>>

I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center. ---->>>

Loyalism, or Unionism, or Protestantism, or whatever you want to call it, in Northern Ireland - it operates not as a class system, but a caste system. ---->>>

I'm not personally obsessed with death. At a certain age, the light that you live in is inhabited by the shades - it 'tis. ---->>>

Poetry is always slightly mysterious, and you wonder what is your relationship to it.

Poetry is always slightly mysterious, and you wonder what is your relationship to it.

The Ireland I now inhabit is one that these Irish contemporaries have helped to imagine. ---->>>

My passport's green. ---->>>

Memory has always been fundamental for me. In fact, remembering what I had forgotten is the way most of the poems get started. ---->>>

Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.

Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.

I've always associated the moment of writing with a moment of lift, of joy, of unexpected reward. ---->>>

Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again. ---->>>

I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written. ---->>>

The completely solitary self: that's where poetry comes from, and it gets isolated by crisis, and those crises are often very intimate also. ---->>>

At home in Ireland, there's a habit of avoidance, an ironical attitude towards the authority figure.

At home in Ireland, there's a habit of avoidance, an ironical attitude towards the authority figure.

The fact of the matter is that the most unexpected and miraculous thing in my life was the arrival in it of poetry itself - as a vocation and an elevation almost.

The fact of the matter is that the most unexpected and miraculous thing in my life was the arrival in it of poetry itself - as a vocation and an elevation almost.

There is risk and truth to yourselves and the world before you. ---->>>

Whether it be a matter of personal relations within a marriage or political initiatives within a peace process, there is no sure-fire do-it-yourself kit.

Whether it be a matter of personal relations within a marriage or political initiatives within a peace process, there is no sure-fire do-it-yourself kit.

If poetry and the arts do anything, they can fortify your inner life, your inwardness.

If poetry and the arts do anything, they can fortify your inner life, your inwardness.

A public expectation, it has to be said, not of poetry as such but of political positions variously approvable by mutually disapproving groups.

A public expectation, it has to be said, not of poetry as such but of political positions variously approvable by mutually disapproving groups.

Without needing to be theoretically instructed, consciousness quickly realizes that it is the site of variously contending discourses. ---->>>

When I first encountered the name of the city of Stockholm, I little thought that I would ever visit it, never mind end up being welcomed to it as a guest of the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Foundation. ---->>>

Anyone born and bred in Northern Ireland can't be too optimistic. ---->>>

I'm a firm believer in learning by heart.

I'm a firm believer in learning by heart.

We go to poetry, we go to literature in general, to be forwarded within ourselves.

We go to poetry, we go to literature in general, to be forwarded within ourselves.

But that citizen's perception was also at one with the truth in recognizing that the very brutality of the means by which the IRA were pursuing change was destructive of the trust upon which new possibilities would have to be based.

But that citizen's perception was also at one with the truth in recognizing that the very brutality of the means by which the IRA were pursuing change was destructive of the trust upon which new possibilities would have to be based.

I always had a superstitious fear of setting up a too well-designed writing place and then finding that the writing had absconded. ---->>>

The murder of Sean Brown hurt my soul. ---->>>

I think childhood is, generally speaking, a preparation for disappointment. ---->>>

Poetry is a domestic art, most itself when most at home.

Poetry is a domestic art, most itself when most at home.

The experimental poetry thing is not my thing. It's a programme of the avant-garde: basically a refusal of the kind of poetry I write.

The experimental poetry thing is not my thing. It's a programme of the avant-garde: basically a refusal of the kind of poetry I write.

The Heaneys were aristocrats, in the sense that they took for granted a code of behavior that was given and unspoken. Argumentation, persuasion, speech itself, for God's sake, just seemed otiose and superfluous to them. ---->>>

Every time you read a poem aloud to yourself in the presence of others, you are reading it into yourself and them. Voice helps to carry words farther and deeper than the eye. ---->>>

The amount of sensory material stored up or stored down in the brain's and the body's systems is inestimable. It's like a culture at the bottom of a jar, although it doesn't grow, I think, or help anything else to grow unless you find a way to reach it and touch it. ---->>>

My father was a creature of the archaic world, really. He would have been entirely at home in a Gaelic hill-fort. His side of the family, and the houses I associate with his side of the family, belonged to a traditional rural Ireland. ---->>>

Write whatever you like! ---->>>

I credit poetry for making this space-walk possible. ---->>>

As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note. ---->>>

I don't think my intelligence is naturally analytic or political. ---->>>

In a war situation or where violence and injustice are prevalent, poetry is called upon to be something more than a thing of beauty.

In a war situation or where violence and injustice are prevalent, poetry is called upon to be something more than a thing of beauty.

In fact, in lyric poetry, truthfulness becomes recognizable as a ring of truth within the medium itself. ---->>>

Then as the years went on and my listening became more deliberate, I would climb up on an arm of our big sofa to get my ear closer to the wireless speaker. ---->>>

I suppose you could say my father's world was Thomas Hardy and my mother's D.H. Lawrence. ---->>>

The kind of poet who founds and reconstitutes values is somebody like Yeats or Whitman - these are public value-founders. ---->>>

I think of the bog as a feminine goddess-ridden ground, rather like the territory of Ireland itself. ---->>>

In a way, Anglo-Saxon poetry cannot be translated. ---->>>

Poetry is what we do to break bread with the dead.

Poetry is what we do to break bread with the dead.

To encounter 'Beowulf' is like taking a sledgehammer to a quarry face. You must bang in there. ---->>>

Your temperament is what you write with, but it's also how you deal with the world. ---->>>

A person from Northern Ireland is naturally cautious. ---->>>

Anybody serious about poetry knows how hard it is to achieve anything worthwhile in it. ---->>>

As a young poet, you need corroboration, and that's what publication does. ---->>>

Dylan Thomas is now as much a case history as a chapter in the history of poetry. ---->>>

Eternal life can mean utter reverence for life itself. ---->>>

History says, 'Don't hope on this side of the grave.' ---->>>

I came from a farming background, and my career was teaching. ---->>>

I spend almost every morning with mail. ---->>>

I've nothing against the Queen personally. I had lunch at the Palace once upon a time. ---->>>

In Northern Ireland, helicopters are not usually used to promote poetry. ---->>>

It's difficult to learn poems off by heart that don't rhyme. ---->>>

My experience is that prose usually equals duty - last minute, overdue-deadline stuff or a panic lecture to be written. ---->>>

My father and mother had no sense of entitlement for their children. ---->>>

One doesn't want one's identity coerced. ---->>>

Poetry is more a threshold than a path. ---->>>

Since I was a schoolboy, I've been used to being recognized on the road by old and young, and being bantered with and, indeed, being taunted. ---->>>

Sonnet is about movement in a form. ---->>>

The experiment of poetry, as far as I am concerned, happens when the poem carries you beyond where you could have reasonably expected to go.

The experiment of poetry, as far as I am concerned, happens when the poem carries you beyond where you could have reasonably expected to go.

The poet is on the side of undeceiving the world. ---->>>

My point is there's a hidden Scotland in anyone who speaks the Northern Ireland speech. It's a terrific complicating factor, not just in Northern Ireland, but Ireland generally. ---->>>

I don't do as many readings as I used to. There was a time when I was on the road a lot more, at home in Ireland, in Britain, in Canada and the States, a time when I had more stamina and appetite for it. ---->>>

I feel myself part of something. Not only being part of a community but part of an actual moment and a movement of Irish writing and art. That sense of being part of the whole thing is the deepest joy. ---->>>

I think that water is immediately interesting. It's just, as an element, it is full of life. It is associated with origin; it is bright - it reflects you. ---->>>

In my early teens, I acquired a kind of representative status: went on behalf of the family to wakes and funerals and so on. And I would be counted on as an adult contributor when it came to farm work - the hay in the summertime, for example. ---->>>

The problem as you get older... is that you become more self-aware. At the same time, you have to surprise yourself. There's no way of arranging the surprise, so it is tricky. ---->>>

I would say that something important for me and for my generation in Northern Ireland was the 1947 Education Act, which allowed students who won scholarships to go on to secondary schools and thence to university. ---->>>

I've said it before about the Nobel Prize: it's like being struck by a more or less benign avalanche. It was unexpected, unlooked for, and extraordinary. ---->>>

If you go into an underground train in London - probably anywhere, but chiefly in London - there's that sense of almost entering a ghostly dimension. People are very still and quiet; they don't exchange many pleasantries. ---->>>

It is very true to say that work done by writers is quite often an attempt to give solid expression to that which is bothering them... They feel they have got it right if they express the stress. ---->>>

My language and my sensibility are yearning to admit a kind of religious or transcendent dimension. But then there's the reality: there's no Heaven, no afterlife of the sort we were promised, and no personal God. ---->>>

The day I entered St Columb's College, my parents bought me a Conway Stewart pen. It was a special afternoon, of course. We were going to be parting that evening; they were aware of it, I was aware of it, nothing much was said about it. ---->>>

The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful, to get a surge of inner life or inner supply or unexpected sense of empowerment, to be afloat, to be out of yourself. ---->>>

The group of writers I had grown up with in the '60s - Derek Mahon, Michael Longley, James Simmons, John Hewitt, Paul Muldoon - formed a very necessary and self-sustaining group. ---->>>

The kinds of truth that art gives us many, many times are small truths. They don't have the resonance of an encyclical from the Pope stating an eternal truth, but they partake of the quality of eternity. There is a sort of timeless delight in them. ---->>>

Tom Sleigh's poetry is hard-earned and well founded. I great admire the way it refuses to cut emotional corners and yet achieves a sense of lyric absolution. ---->>>

Manifesting that order of poetry where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew. ---->>>

In poetry, everything can be faked but the intensity of utterance. ---->>>

I believe we are put here to improve civilisation. ---->>>

I suppose you inevitably fall into habits of expression. ---->>>

I think of Dermot Healy as the heir to Patrick Kavanagh. ---->>>

I'm very conscious that people dear to me are alive in my imagination - poets in particular. ---->>>

I've been in the habit of helping people. ---->>>

In the United States, in poetry workshops, it's now quite a thing to make graduate students learn poems by heart. ---->>>

Poems that come swiftly are usually the ones that you keep. ---->>>

The end of art is peace. ---->>>

There's never going to be a united Ireland, you know. ---->>>

What I've said before, only half in joke, is that everybody in Ireland is famous. Or, maybe better, say everybody is familiar. ---->>>

Yeats was 18th-century oratory, almost. ---->>>

You can have Irish identity in the north and also have your Irish passport. ---->>>

You yourself don't have to be shaken by mortal danger in order to feel your mortality. ---->>>

I think the first little jolt I got was reading Gerard Manley Hopkins - I liked other poems... but Hopkins was kind of electric for me - he changed the rules with speech, and the whole intensity of the language was there and so on. ---->>>

One of the best descriptions of the type of writer I am was given by Tom Paulin, who described himself as a 'binge' writer - like a binge drinker. I go on binges. ---->>>

Biography

Nationality: Irish
Born: 04-13, 1939
Birthplace:
Die: 08-30, 2013
Occupation: Poet
Website:

Seamus Justin Heaney, MRIA (; 13 April 1939 – 30 August 2013) was an Irish poet, playwright, translator and lecturer from Northern Ireland. He received the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Born near Castledawson and Toomebridge, Northern Ireland, the family moved to nearby Bellaghy when he was a boy (wikipedia)