Seamus Heaney was voice of N.Ireland's agony, funeral hears

DUBLIN- Irish writer and poet Seamus Heaney was described as the voice of Northern Ireland's pain and suffering during his funeral mass in Dublin Monday, attended by the literary elite and rock superstars U2.
Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, passed away aged 74 on Friday after a short illness.
His work dealt extensively with over three decades of sectarian violence, bombings and murders in Northern Ireland, known as the Troubles.

Seamus Heaney was voice of N.Ireland's agony, funeral hears
"When we read that series of sharp-witted paradoxes that we call the beatitudes it cannot but strike us how many of them apply readily to our memories of Seamus Heaney," chief celebrant of the mass, Monsignor Brendan Devlin, told the packed church.
"How blessed are those of gentle spirit; those who hunger and thirst to see right prevail; those who show mercy to others; those who want to see peace established -- how much of that is a description of the man we knew, of the brilliant literary critic, of the articulator of the years of pain in (Northern Ireland)."
Arguably one of the English language's greatest poets, Heaney released his first collection, "Death of a Naturalist", in 1966.
He went on to publish several collections of poetry and literary criticism and was awarded the Nobel prize for literature "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past".
Hundreds of mourners, including Ireland's political leaders and all four members of U2, packed into the church of the Sacred Heart in Donnybrook in Dublin to pay their respects to the poet considered by critics to be Ireland's finest since Yeats, and the mass was broadcast live on television and radio.
While much of his work evokes the sounds and smells of his rural upbringing in his native Co. Derry in Northern Ireland, his extensive and varied canon also dealt with the Troubles.
While criticised for moving to the Republic of Ireland during the conflict, he was Catholic and undoubtedly nationalist, as revealed in the lines:
"Be advised/My passport's green/ No glass of ours was ever raised/ To toast the Queen."
However, Heaney refused to become a political spokesperson and often found historical events to frame analogies of the strife in Northern Ireland.
"Seamus loved people of all traditions. We pray that his spirit of inclusiveness will continue to inspire us to strive for peace on our own island and throughout the world," arts broadcaster John Kelly said during the service.
Critic and journalist, Fintan O'Toole, described Heaney's death as a devastating loss to Irish life.
"He turned our disgrace into grace, our petty hatreds into epic generosity, our dull cliches into questioning eloquence, the leaden metal of brutal inevitability in the gold of pure possibility," he wrote in a full-page tribute on the front of the Irish Times.
Heaney was to be laid to rest at Bellaghy Cemetery in Co. Derry.
Although primarily a poet, Heaney was also a highly regarded academic and served as professor of poetry at Oxford University and as poet-in-residence at Harvard University.
Fellow Irish-poet Paul Muldoon said Heaney had an incredible ability to bring readers to a safe place.
"It was Seamus Heaney's unparalleled capacity to sweep all of us up into his arms that we are honouring today. Today we mourn with Marie and the children, the nation, the wide world," Muldoon said in a tribute.
"I remember the beauty of Seamus Heaney, as a bard of course, and today, in particular, in his being."
In a moving final address, the poet's son, Michael Heaney, revealed his father's last words were sent in a text message to his wife, Marie, last Friday.
"His last few words, in a text message he wrote to my mother minutes before he passed away, were in his beloved Latin and they read,'Nolle timere': don't be afraid."

Tuesday, September 3rd 2013

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