Photo taken when he visited Uppingham School in 1970.

Seamus Heaney
(*13. April 1939 Tamniaran bei Castledawson nordöstlich von Magherafelt, County Londonderry, Nordirland; - †30. August 2013 Dublin[)
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"My poetry journey into the wilderness of language was a journey where each point of arrival turned out to be a stepping stone rather than a destination.

From Nobel Prize for Literature speech 1995

Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep

To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

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.


As you came with me in silence

to the pump in the long grass

I heard much that you could not hear:

the bite of the spade that sank it,

the slithering and grumble

as the mason mixed his mortar,

and women coming with white buckets

like flashes on their ruffled wings.

The cast-iron rims of the lid

clinked as I uncovered it,

something stirred in its mouth.

I had a bird’s eye view of a bird,

finch-green, speckled and white,

nesting in dry leaves, flattened, still,

suffering the light.

So I roofed the citadel

as gently as I could, and told you

and you gently unroofed it

but where was the bird now?

There was the single egg, pebbly white,

and from the rusted bend of the snout

tail-feathers splayed and sat tight.

So tender, I said, ‘Remember this.

It will be good for you to retrace this path

when you fear you have grown up at last

and come forever to the empty city.’