Thursday, September 12, 2013

Seamus Heaney, you are a class act

I haven't had a chance to write about (or process) the passing of one of my favorite poets, Seamus Heaney. He passed away at the end of this August. If you are unfamiliar with his work, I highly recommend Opened Ground. I still find new poems in there, new meanings. Seriously, get you a copy. His poetry is beyond compare. If you're looking for an review of his work, this isn't the place. I just want to talk a little about how much his work means to me.

I was introduced to Seamus Heaney in one of my many classes with Pamela McClure. Dr. Pam found a beautiful Irish band that wrote a song using one of his poems as the lyrics. I can't find it on YouTube, which is a damn shame. If any of you know a link to it, please post the link. I did find several beautiful tribute videos.

I have so many things I want to say, but I don't know how to say them, so I'm going to talk around it for a little while until I hit the meat. There is something about his words that really resonates with me. My wife doesn't care for poetry (not written about her), but she knows who Pamela McClure and Seamus Heaney are because they are our household poets. I always know where their books are.

I reconnected with a dear friend from my high school recently, and she dropped that she got to see Heaney read in Texas and I was/am so jealous. A part of me still thinks I'll get to see him read because the truth is that this hasn't quite sunk in, yet.

I read this when I found out:
Late in the Clinton administration, the President and First Lady hosted a party to celebrate American poetry at the White House. I was standing with a group of poets with the President, and one of us asked if he read poetry. He lit up a little and said that he'd been reading The Cure at Troy, Seamus Heaney's version of Sophocles, and that it had been important to him in thinking about peace talks in Northern Ireland. A moment I wanted to remember, in memory of Seamus, and a straight-from-the-horse's- mouth (so to speak) demonstration of poetry's place in public life.
-Mark Doty

The news outlets tell me that he left us with a final message: don't be afraid.

Even on his way out the door, a class act. Thank you for all of everything.