Seamus Heaney: Quotations


Poetry Prose I Prose II
File 1 File 2 File 3

Material on these pages comprise a commonplace record of the author’s best-known writings in prose and verse to be met in articles, reviews, monographs & essays including a wide range of monographs, articles, post-graduate dissertations and student essays. The resultant compilation is a scholar’s notebook and not a publication. Visitors to these pages are strongly encouraged to check original texts before quotinBg material cited herein, as stated in the “Terms & Conditions”.

See Seamus Heaney in interviews on Patrick Kavanagh, RTÉ (30 Nov. 1987) in RICORSO Gallery > Videos [with another by Brendan Kennelly] - as attached.
See Seamus Heaney reading “Man and Boy” from Seeing Things (1991), accompanied by Spanish subtitles - at Dailymotion as a video - online.*
Hear Heaney present his Nobel Award Acceptance Speech [online] and his reading of “Clearances - iii”, which was nominated Ireland’s most popular poem in 2016 [online]
Hear Heaney's guest appearance as Sue Lawley's guest on “Desert Island Discs” (BBC4, 19 Nov. 1989) online - and another copy.
*Note: the Spanish subtitles translate debt (in ‘feared debt all his life’) as muerte.

[ for use in lectures and seminars ]

File 1: Selected Poetry
“Personal Helicon”
“The Peninsula”
“Gallarus Oratory”
“A New Song”
“Death of a Naturalist”
“The Forge”
“The Tollund Man”
“Mossbawn I & II”
“Whatever You Say, Say Nothing”
“Glanmore Sonnets”
“Sweeney in Flight”
“An Open Letter”
“The Ministry of Fear”
“The Diviner”
“A New Song”
“Funeral Rites”
“The Flight Path”
“A Kite for Michael & Christopher”
“Station Island”
The Cure of Troy (1990)
“The Stone Verdict”
“Seeing Things”
“The Skylight”
“A Sofa in the ’Forties”
“The Gravel Walks”
“Dante among the Giants”
“Horace & Thunder”
“Montana” & “Known World”
The Burial at Thebes
“Beacons at Bealtaine”
“The Ajax Incident”
“District and Circle”
“The Blackbird of Glanmore”
“Saw Music”
“A Kite for Aibhín”
“A Herbal”
“The Birch Grove”
“Banks of a Canal”
“The Other Side”
[ index ]

File 2: Selected Prose
“Our Own Dour Way”
“Unhappy and at Home”
“Feeling into Words”
“The Sense of Place”
“Country of Convention”
“A Tale of Two Islands”
“The God in the Tree”
“Place and Displacement”
“The Placeless Heaven”
“Government of the Tongue”
“The Fully Exposed Poem”
“Calling the Tune”
“Frontiers of Writing”
“John Clare’s Prog”
“The Redress of Poetry”
“Joy or Night: Last Things [... &c]”
“Crediting Poetry”
“Between North & South”
“Viewing the Century”
“Against Intolerance”
“One Voice, Two Places”
Prefaces & introductions
The Crane Bag (Preface) The Rattle Bag (Intro.) Finders Keepers (2002)
On individual works
“Tollund Man”
Beowulf (1999)
The Cure of Troy
Sweeney Astray
“The Mud Vision”
On literary figures
Dante Alighieri
W. B. Yeats
T. S. Eliot
Ted Hughes
Sylvia Plath
T. P. Flanagan
Robert Burns
Sorley MacLean
On sundry topics
Putting it on record

English lyric
Poetry as divination
The Troubles

Native ground
Ulster literary mags.
Maps of Ulster

File 3: Longer Extracts
“Feeling into Words” (1980)
“The Sense of Place” (1980)
Interview / Seamus Deane (1977)
Interview / Denis O’Driscoll (2003)

See also

“In the light of the imagination” - on Patrick Kavanagh, in (The Irish Times, 2004)

‘You have won renown: you are known to all men / far and near, now and forever. / Your sway is wide as the wind’s home, / as the sea around cliffs.’ (From Beowulf - quoted in ‘Seamus Heaney’ by Petri Liukkonen at the Kirjasto website [online].)

  Open Letter

You’ll understand I draw the line
At being robbed of what is mine,
My patris, my deep design
To be at home
In my own place and dwell within
Its proper name.’

Open Letter (Derry: Field Day Co. 1983), p.25-26.

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Station Island
  Let go, let fly, forget
You’ve listened long enough
Now strike your note ...
Station Island (1984).
  [Chorus:] Human beings suffer …
You would wonder if it’s meant…..
What’s the sense of it?
The Cure at Troy (London: Faber 1990, p.13.)

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  The Cantonment of Expectation
  What looks the strongest has outlived its term.
The future lies with what’s affirmed from under.

So now, as a thank-offering for one
Whose long wait on the shaded bank has ended,
I arrive with my bunch of stalks and silvered heads
Like tapers that won’t dim
As her earthlight breaks and we gather round
Talking baby talk.

—from The Human Chain (2010)



Had I sufficient Irish in Rannafast
In 1953 to understand
The seanchas and dinnseanchas,
Had not been too young and too shy,
Had even heard the story about Caoilte
Hunting the fawn from Tory to a door
In a fairy hill where he wasn’t turned away
But led to a crystal chair on the hill floor
While a girl with golden ringlets harped and sang,
Language and longing might have made a leap
Up through that cloud-swabbed air, the horizon lightened
And the far ‘Lake of the Yew Tree’ gleamed. 

—from Human Chain (2010).

See also sundry extracts from Dennis O’Driscoll, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney (London: Faber & Faber 2008) [attached].

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