Sunday 22 January 2017

For a man undaunted by death, Heaney's own passing seemed unjust

Great poet leaves us with a sense of wonder, writes Eamon Delaney

Published 24/12/2013 | 02:30

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney

OF all the notable deaths this year, the sudden passing of poet Seamus Heaney was surely one of the most shocking and affecting.

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The poet was such a huge part of our cultural world, both here and internationally, that his departure seemed truly untimely and unjust. And yet he lives on in his art and in his language and his wisdom, and his final stoic and calming words to his family -- "Don't be afraid" -- are themselves part of the wonderful wise calm he imparted. He faced the end like it was as much a part of the journey as his life had been.

This strong and courageous attitude to life and death was entirely characteristic of Heaney, and when my father, the sculptor Edward, died in 2009, Heaney wrote to me to express condolences not in a grief-stricken way but with a celebratory description of the 1960 artistic milieu from which they had both emerged.

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