No sound of silence in praise of poet
LEGENDARY singer and songwriter Paul Simon honoured his friend, the late poet Seamus Heaney, with a musical tribute.
"I was a friend and a fan of his writing," said the 72-year-old American artist, who performed in Dublin last night.
"I like the sound of Heaney's poetry – there is a musicality to it. He may have come from Irish soil, but his words resonate around the world."
Simon sang extracts from several of Heaney's poems at the 'Celebrating Seamus Heaney' event in the National Concert Hall.
"I set pieces of his poetry to music with a little help from Paul Muldoon," he added.
Simon was first introduced to Heaney by the poet Derek Walcott at the Abbey Theatre in 1991 when Heaney gave a reading from his book 'Seeing Things'.
The two had remained friends since, often talking about poetry and the arts.
President Michael D Higgins also performed at the commemorative concert, reading 'From the Republic of Conscience'.
"I remember reading it when it was first composed and thinking it was a mesmerising piece, so am honoured to be reading it tonight while surrounded by old friends and familiar faces," Mr Higgins said.
Lisa Hannigan, Paul Brady, Theo Dorgan and Tomas Venclova also performed during the emotive concert.
Earlier in the day, Simon had been on hand to unveil a commemorative tapestry in honour of the late poet in Dublin Airport.
The four-metre-high azure blue tapestry, entitled 'Out of the Marvellous', depicts an open book sailing through the sky with an excerpt from Heaney's poem 'Lightenings VIII' inscribed across its pages. The image was inspired by the lines "The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise, Were all at prayers inside the oratory, A ship appeared above them in the air."
"Travellers would do well to carry Seamus Heaney's words with them," said Simon.
Simon, along with Bono, The Edge, Paul McGuinness, Kathy Gilfillan, Marie and Joe Donnelly, and Kathy and Ed Ludwig supported the creation of the commissioned tapestry.
Bono said he cherished Heaney's works every time he travelled.
"With my life, I pass through a lot of airports. Seamus's poems are my companion on every journey . . . they come with me wherever I go," he said.
"Now, when any of us travel – be it leaving our home, or our visitors returning to their own homes, Seamus will be there to bid us all farewell."
Designed by acclaimed New York-based Czech artist Peter Sis, the piece was woven by master weavers in Atelier Pinton in Aubusson, France, over the course of five months.
Mr Heaney died in hospital in Dublin last August after a short illness. He was 74.
His funeral was held in Donnybrook, south Dublin, but he was buried near his childhood home in Bellaghy, Co Derry.