By SEAMUS HEANEY
Reviewed by WILLIAM LOGAN
Seamus Heaney mines childhood and the Ireland of the past in his latest poems.
Seamus Heaney’s ‘Journey Into the Wideness of Language’By JOHN WILLIAMS
In a 1997 interview in The Paris Review, Mr. Heaney described winning the Nobel as “a bit like being caught in a mostly benign avalanche. You are totally daunted, of course, when you think of previous writers who received the prize. And daunted when you think of the ones who didn’t receive it.”
In his Nobel lecture, Mr. Heaney described listening to the radio as a child, and how he “got used to hearing short bursts of foreign languages as the dial hand swept round.” He continued: “And even though I didn’t understand what was being said in those first encounters with the gutturals and sibilants of European speech, I had already begun my journey into the wideness of the world. This, in turn, became a journey into the wideness of language.”
In addition to writing his own poetry, Mr. Heaney was widely acclaimed as a translator, perhaps most notably of “Beowulf.” Reviewing that translation in 2000, James Shapiro called it a work “for which generations of readers will be grateful,” and said: “Heaney is as attuned to the poem’s celebration of the heroic as he is to its melancholy undertow, nowhere more so than in his hauntingly beautiful description of Beowulf’s funeral.”
In 2000, Mr. Heaney spoke to PBS about his translation of “Beowulf”:
This poem is written down, but it is also clearly a poem that was spoken out. And it is spoken in a very dignified, formal way. And I got the notion that the best voice I could hear it in was the voice of an old countryman who was a cousin of my father’s who was not, as they say, educated, but he spoke with great dignity and formality. And I thought if I could write the translation in such a way that this man — Peter Scullion was his name — could speak it, then I would get it right. That’s, in fact, how I started it.Below are links to more reviews of Mr. Heaney’s work in The Times:
“District and Circle”
“The Burial at Thebes: A Version of Sophocles’ ‘Antigone’ ”
“Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996”
“Selected Poems, 1966-1987”
“The Haw Lantern”
“The Redress of Poetry”
“The Government of the Tongue”
“Preoccupations: Selected Prose 1968-1978”
And yet the platform here feels more like a space station than a stepping stone, so that is why, for once in my life, I am permitting myself the luxury of walking on air.
--Seamus Heaney – Nobel Lecture
昨 天翻《希尼作品及研究目錄》，第一本詩集 Death of a Naturalist ，翻譯成《一個自然主義者的死亡》 ，這可能用類似YAHOO！字典：2. 【人】 自然主義者 ( naturalism ) /3. 【人】 博物學家 /1. 【人】 鳥商;狗商;動物標本剝製者 【注意：Yahoo的順序很奇怪】；Seeing Things翻譯成《幻視》；The Spirit Level翻譯成《酒精水準儀》；Opening Ground: Poems 1966-1996 翻譯成 《開墾的土地》
I would say to Chinese readers that I'm exhilarated to think that we can connect across the great distances – linguistic, geographic, cultural. That tells us something about poetry. The ongoing life of poetry is crucial for our continuing life as creatures of civilization and sensibility and as creatures of intimacy. Poetry is one of the basrious (???), one of the guardians of intimacy. But poetry is also wide-open, it's a public art form. And that is the paradox. A poem has to be available for inspection and at the same time, you know, it must be intimate to the poet. Think of writing a love letter and then think of writing a love poem, and of leaving them both on a table. If someone comes along later and reads the letters, it's an invasion, an intrusion, and the readers would probably be slightly embarrassed. But if love poem, however bad the love poem is, it is not an invasion. The poem is actually an address to you as a reader. It calls you towards it. It is there to be open with you. It is a made thing , but a thing made of inwardness. So the fact that there are Chinese readers means that our belief in the openness of the poem is justified, and secondly, that our sense of its necessity as a help to our continuing to be sensitively human is justified too.
CNNmoney EyeOpener COMMENTARY: Wastler's Wanderings
belly laugh noun [C] loud, uncontrolled laugh:
I've never heard Robin laugh like that - it was a real belly laugh.
Wow, Shrek 2 did huge numbers over the weekend. Here's the prelim scores: $125.3 million since its Wednesday release (beating "The Return of the King" record) and $104.3 million for the legitimate weekend (second behind Spider Man). So is the huge blockbuster back? Nah. I chalk this success up to going back to good old cartoon roots: Entertainment for the kids with enough subtle adult level jokes to keep the parents interested. Heck, I belly laughed a lot through it. Now, let's hear some Dreamworks IPO buzz.
chalk sth up phrasal verb [M]
to achieve something, such as a victory, or to score points in a game:
Today's victory is the fifth that the Irish team has chalked up this year.
It was doubtful whether the Conservatives could chalk up a fourth successive election victory, but they did.
(from Cambridge Advanced Learner's Dictionary)
****bellyache (COMPLAIN) verb [I] INFORMAL
to complain: I wish you'd stop bellyaching and just get on with the job.
bellyaching noun [U]
COMMENTARY:Tucker's Two Cents
I know it's Monday but I have to get something off my chest. This bellyaching about "greedy oil companies", the demonizing of OPEC is hooey. Yeah... I admit I rarely meet a company that's not greedy but here's some very simple math to consider. Refining capacity in this country is running at record highs. Never before have our refineries produced so much gasoline. They actually can't produce anymore ... they've reached their limit. They can't build new refineries because nobody wants one in their backyard. Now... understand this: a barrel of oil is 55 gallons. Roughly 60% of that barrel is turned into gasoline; that equals about 33 gallons. With a gallon of gas selling for an national average of $2 per gallon... those 33 gallons are suddenly worth $66.. and we're not even talking about the whole barrel. That is why a barrel of crude oil keeps rising. Instead of silly boycotts ... how about we reduce our demand?
boycott verb [T]
to refuse to buy a product or take part in an activity as a way of expressing strong disapproval:
People were urged to boycott the country's products.
The union called on its members to boycott the meeting.
boycott [Show phonetics]
A boycott of/against goods from the EU began in June.
Seamus Heaney, Irish Poet of Soil and Strife, Dies at 74
Paul McErlane/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images
By MARGALIT FOX
Published: August 30, 2013 208 Comments
Seamus Heaney, the 1995 Nobel laureate in Literature, who was often called the greatest Irish poet since Yeats, died on Friday in Dublin. He was 74.
In addition to his own poetry, Mr. Heaney, who died on Friday, was acclaimed for his translations, including his version of “Beowulf.”
An Appraisal: Capturing Rhythms of Nature in Poems (August 31, 2013)
ArtsBeat: Another Kind of Music (August 30, 2013)
An Irishman Reflecting on Mankind's Strivings (October 6, 1995)
Steve Pyke/Getty Images
His publisher, Faber & Faber, announced the death. The Irish poet Paul Muldoon, a longtime friend, said that Mr. Heaney was hospitalized after a fall on Thursday. Mr. Heaney had suffered a stroke in 2006.
In an address, President Michael D. Higgins of Ireland, himself a poet, praised Mr. Heaney’s “contribution to the republics of letters, conscience and humanity.” Enda Kenny, the Irish prime minister, said that Mr. Heaney’s death had brought “great sorrow to Ireland, to language and to literature.”
A Roman Catholic native of Northern Ireland, Mr. Heaney was renowned for work that powerfully evoked the beauty and blood that together have come to define the modern Irish condition. The author of more than a dozen collections of poetry, as well as critical essays and works for the stage, he repeatedly explored the strife and uncertainties that have afflicted his homeland, while managing simultaneously to steer clear of polemic.
Mr. Heaney (pronounced HEE-nee), who had made his home in Dublin since the 1970s, was known to a wide public for the profuse white hair and stentorian voice that befit his calling. He held lectureships at some of the world’s foremost universities, including Harvard, where, starting in the 1980s, he taught regularly for many years; Oxford; and the University of California, Berkeley.
As the trade magazine Publishers Weekly observed in 1995, Mr. Heaney “has an aura, if not a star power, shared by few contemporary poets, emanating as much from his leonine features and unpompous sense of civic responsibility as from the immediate accessibility of his lines.”
Throughout his work, Mr. Heaney was consumed with morality. In his hands, a peat bog is not merely an emblematic feature of the Irish landscape; it is also a spiritual quagmire, evoking the deep ethical conundrums that have long pervaded the place.
“Yeats, despite being quite well known, despite his public role, actually didn’t have anything like the celebrity or, frankly, the ability to touch the people in the way that Seamus did,” Mr. Muldoon, a winner of the Pulitzer Prize and the poetry editor at The New Yorker, said in an interview on Friday. “It was almost like he was indistinguishable from the country. He was like a rock star who also happened to be a poet.”
Mr. Heaney was enraptured, as he once put it, by “words as bearers of history and mystery.” His poetry, which had an epiphanic quality, was suffused with references to pre-Christian myth — Celtic, of course, but also that of ancient Greece. His style, linguistically dazzling, was nonetheless lacking in the obscurity that can attend poetic pyrotechnics.
At its best, Mr. Heaney’s work had both a meditative lyricism and an airy velocity. His lines could embody a dark, marshy melancholy, but as often as not they also communicated the wild onrushing joy of being alive.
The result — work that was finely wrought yet notably straightforward — made Mr. Heaney one of the most widely read poets in the world.
Reviewing Mr. Heaney’s collection “North” in The New York Review of Books in 1976, the Irish poet Richard Murphy wrote: “His original power, which even the sternest critics bow to with respect, is that he can give you the feeling as you read his poems that you are actually doing what they describe. His words not only mean what they say, they sound like their meaning.”
Mr. Heaney made his reputation with his debut volume, “Death of a Naturalist,” published in 1966. In “Digging,” a poem from the collection, he explored the earthy roots of his art:
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.
Though Mr. Heaney’s poems often have pastoral settings, dewy rural romanticism is notably absent: instead, he depicts country life in all its harsh daily reality. His poem “A Drink of Water” opens this way:
She came every morning to draw water
Like an old bat staggering up the field:
The pump’s whooping cough, the bucket’s clatter
And slow diminuendo as it filled,
Announced her. I recall
Her grey apron, the pocked white enamel
Of the brimming bucket, and the treble
Creak of her voice like the pump’s handle.
Mr. Heaney was deeply self-identified as Irish, and much of his work overtly concerned the Troubles, as the long, violent sectarian conflict in late-20th-century Northern Ireland is known.
But though he condemned British dominion in his homeland (he wrote: “Be advised, my passport’s green/No glass of ours was ever raised/To toast the Queen”), Mr. Heaney refused to disown British tradition — and especially British literature — altogether.
The writers who influenced him deeply, he said, included not only the Irishmen William Butler Yeats and James Joyce but also the Englishman Thomas Hardy.
In his poem “Whatever You Say, Say Nothing,” whose title became a byword in Northern Ireland for the linguistic subterfuge that underpins biographical conversations, Mr. Heaney wrote:
Smoke-signals are loud-mouthed compared with us:
Manoeuvrings to find out name and school,
Subtle discrimination by addresses
With hardly an exception to the rule
That Norman, Ken and Sidney signalled Prod
And Seamus (call me Sean) was sure-fire Pape.
O land of password, handgrip, wink and nod,
Of open minds as open as a trap,
Where tongues lie coiled, as under flames lie wicks,
Where half of us, as in a wooden horse
Were cabin’d and confined like wily Greeks,
Besieged within the siege, whispering morse.
As a result of Mr. Heaney’s inclusive stance, some supporters of the Irish Republican cause condemned him as accommodationist. His rejoinder can be found, for instance, in lines from his 1974 essay on the Russian poet Osip Mandelstam, who was exiled to Siberia by Stalin’s regime and died there in 1938.
In the essay, Mr. Heaney set forth an observation that could be applied with equal force to contemporary Ireland:
“We live here in critical times ourselves, when the idea of poetry as an art is in danger of being overshadowed by a quest for poetry as a diagram of political attitudes,” he wrote. “Some commentators have all the fussy literalism of an official from the ministry of truth.”
The eldest of nine children of a cattle dealer, Seamus Justin Heaney was born on April 13, 1939, at Mossbawn, his family’s farm in County Derry, west of Belfast. The farm’s name would appear throughout his work. Mr. Heaney’s intoxication with language, he said in a 1974 lecture, “Feeling into Words,” “began very early when my mother used to recite lists of affixes and suffixes, and Latin roots, with their English meanings, rhymes that formed part of her schooling in the early part of the century.”
Later in the lecture, he ventured an alternative scenario: “Maybe it was stirred by the beautiful sprung rhythms of the old BBC weather forecast: Dogger, Rockall, Malin, Shetland, Faroes, Finisterre; or with the gorgeous and inane phraseology of the catechism; or with the litany of the Blessed Virgin that was part of the enforced poetry in our household: Tower of Gold, Ark of the Covenant, Gate of Heaven, Morning Star, Health of the Sick, Refuge of Sinners, Comforter of the Afflicted.”
In 1961, Mr. Heaney earned a bachelor’s degree with first class honors in English language and literature from Queen’s University of Belfast. He wrote poetry as a student, publishing under the modest pseudonym Incertus, the Latin word for “doubtful.”
He went on to earn a teaching certificate in English from St. Joseph’s College in Belfast and was later appointed to the faculty there. He began writing poetry seriously in the mid-1960s, joining a workshop led by the noted Northern Irish poet Derek Mahon.
Mr. Heaney followed “Death of a Naturalist” with collections including “Door Into the Dark” (1969), “Wintering Out” (1972), “Station Island” (1984) and “The Midnight Verdict,” published in 1993.
In 1995, he became the fourth Irishman to win the Nobel in Literature, following Yeats, who received it in 1923; George Bernard Shaw (1925); and Samuel Beckett (1969).
In awarding the prize to Mr. Heaney, the Swedish Academy cited his “works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past” and also commended his cleareyed analysis of the Northern Ireland conflict.
Though Mr. Heaney was lauded throughout his career, a few critics condemned his work as facile.
“If Heaney really is the best we can do, then the whole troubled, exploratory thrust of modern poetry has been a diversion from the right true way,” the poet and critic Al Alvarez (also known as A. Alvarez) said in The New York Review of Books in 1980, reviewing Mr. Heaney’s collection “Field Work.” Mr. Alvarez continued:
“Eliot and his contemporaries, Lowell and his, Plath and hers had it all wrong: to try to make clearings of sense and discipline and style in the untamed, unfenced darkness was to mistake morbidity for inspiration.”
Among Mr. Heaney’s other volumes of poetry are “The Spirit Level” (1996); “Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996” (1998); “Electric Light” (2001); “District and Circle” (2006); and his last, “Human Chain,” published in 2010.
Mr. Heaney’s survivors include his wife, the former Marie Devlin, whom he married in 1965; two sons, Christopher and Michael; and a daughter, Catherine, The Associated Press reported.
His other writings include critical essays on Yeats, Joyce, Joseph Brodsky, Ted Hughes, Stevie Smith and Italo Calvino; “Finders Keepers: Selected Prose, 1971-2001” (2002); and a verse translation of “Beowulf” published in 2000.
In “The Cure at Troy,” his 1991 verse adaptation of Sophocles’ play “Philoctetes,” about the Trojan War, Mr. Heaney wrote these evocative lines:
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.
In April, Vice President Joseph R. Biden, citing Mr. Heaney as “one of my favorite poets,” quoted those lines at the memorial service for Sean Collier, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology police officer killed in the aftermath of the Boston Marathon bombings.
Mr. Heaney was the subject of a spate of critics’ studies and the biographical volume “Seamus Heaney: The Making of the Poet” (1993), by Michael Parker.
In a 1991 interview with the British newsmagazine The Economist, Mr. Heaney described his essential professional mandate.
“The poet is on the side of undeceiving the world,” he said. “It means being vigilant in the public realm. But you can go further still and say that poetry tries to help you to be a truer, purer, wholer being.”
This article has been revised to reflect the following correction:
Correction: August 30, 2013
In an earlier version of this article, Enda Kenny, the prime minister of Ireland, was described incorrectly. He is a man.