Seamus Heaney quotes

Seamus Heaney won the Nobel Prize for Literature. At one point, he accounted for two thirds of all the poetry books by living poets sold in the UK. He is regarded as one of Ireland’s greatest poets. Here are some of his best quotes;

Seamus Heaney quote. I can't think of a case where poetry changed the world. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again. Poetry is always slightly mysterious, and you wonder what is your relationship to it.

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Seamus Heaney quote. Be advised my passport's green. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Yet there are times when a deeper need enters, when we want the poem to be not only pleasurably right but compellingly wise, not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a re-tuning of the world itself.

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Seamus Heaney quote.  If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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It has as much to do with the energy released by linguistic fission and fusion, with the buoyancy generated by cadence and tone and rhyme and stanza, as it has to do with the poem’s concerns or the poet’s truthfulness.

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Seamus Heaney quote. So hope for a great sea change. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what’s said and what’s done.

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Seamus Heaney quote. Between my finger and my thumb the squat pen rests. I'll dig with it. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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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
So hope for a great sea change
On the far side of revenge.

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Seamus Heaney quote. It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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It is said that once upon a time St. Kevin was kneeling with his arms stretched out in the form of a cross in Glendalough… As Kevin knelt and prayed, a blackbird mistook his outstretched hand for some kind of roost and swooped down upon it, laid a clutch of eggs in it and proceeded to nest in it as if it were the branch of a tree.

Then, overcome with pity and constrained by his faith to love all creatures great and small, Kevin stayed immobile for hours and days and nights and weeks, holding out his hand until the eggs hatched and the fledging grew wings, true to life if subversive of common sense, at the intersection of natural process and the glimpsed ideal, at one and the same time a signpost and a reminder.

Manifesting that order of poetry where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew.

More on Seamus Heaney
Cartoon illustration of shamrocks. Image copyright Ireland Calling

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