Clinton and O'Brien lead the tributes to Heaney
BILL Clinton paid a powerful tribute to Seamus Heaney at the Irish Book Awards.
Speaking on a pre-recorded video shown at the awards, the former US President quoted from Heaney's work and said he was both a great poet and a great man.
"When we lost Seamus Heaney this summer, we lost more than a great poet, we also lost a great spirit, a truly extraordinary man who moved easily between the role of artist and public figure with grace, dignity and humility. And we lost a genuine friend," said Mr Clinton.
"I want to say to his wife Marie and his children Mick, Christopher and Catherine that we understand your loss."
Among the others who joined in the video tribute was novelist Edna O'Brien, who said the Nobel Prize winner was a "deep and radical" poet.
Ms O'Brien quoted her favourite lines from a Heaney poem 'Postscript', a poem which describes a drive out to the Clare coast:
"As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways,
"And catch the heart off guard and blow it open."
Like Bill Clinton, she said that Seamus Heaney's poems dealt with ordinary life, but always had a vision that moved them from the physical to the metaphysical.
That vision made him a great poet, Ms O'Brien said.