Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney dies aged 74

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Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney dies aged 74

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Seamus Heaney, one of the world’s most accomplished poets, has died at the age of 74 following a short illness.

Heaney, who was born on a farm in Mossbawn in County Derry in Northern Ireland, won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995.

He is much mourned in north and south of the border. “For us, Seamus Heaney was the keeper of language, our codes, our essence as a people,” Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny said.

“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.”
Seamus Heaney, from “Digging”, Death of a Naturalist.

“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.”
Seamus Heaney, from “The Cure at Troy”

The Nobel jury honoured his work for its “lyrical beauty and ethical depth”.

His most famous collections ‘Death of a Naturalist’ and ‘Spirit Level’ won acclaim from highbrow critics as well as the book buying public.

He was also known for an acclaimed translation of the old English epic poem ‘Beowulf’.

A tousle-haired figure with a shy manner, he hated media hype and publishers’ publicity caravans even as he became one of Ireland’s most famous figures. It once took him three hours to walk down Dublin’s main street, pursued by autograph hunters.

Heaney, the eldest of nine children, was born in April 1939 and published his first work in 1966.

He died in a Dublin hospital.

Seamus Heaney leaves behind his wife Marie and three children, Christopher, Michael and Catherine Ann.

Heaney reading his poem, “Digging”.