Seamus Heaney: “But what about the river in the trees, boy?”

Seamus Heaney by Felix Clay

Seamus Heaney has died at the age of 74.  The Slugger archive has a number of Heaney-related posts, although some links may be defunct.  Among them one of my earliest posts noting Heaney writing on his fellow poet Czeslaw Milosz.  More here, here, here, here, and here.  And here’s a great montage of BBC archive clips from 2009 of “Digging”. [Photo credit: Felix Clay]

And a quote noted back in 2006.

Sitting comfortably at last in the country-like kitchen of his house on the Strand, next to a paper-stuffed annex, Heaney reflects on his Nobel remarks: “I was thinking specifically of the book The Haw Lantern, which came out in 1987 [the ‘transitional volume’ of his earlier joke].

“My favourite poem in this area is a two-line dedicatory verse at the front of it: ‘The riverbed, dried-up, half-full of leaves. / Us, listening to a river in the trees.’ That settles it. You know? Obligation, earnest attention, documentary responsibility – fine. But what about the river in the trees, boy? Poetry has to be that, and it’s very hard to get there.”

Indeed.

Adds The Guardian has more Heaney poetry clips.