An episode from 8/25/23: Tonight, I read ten essential poems from one of the great and most public poets of the last seventy years, Seamus Heaney (1939-2013). It isn’t hard to come by details of Heaney’s life, but Stepping Stones (where Heaney is interviewed at length in what amounts to an autobiography), is a good place to start. His poems are collected in 100 Poems, and in the individual collections.
There are many ways to look at Heaney’s work, and the ten poems I choose only present one picture: a poet as at home on the farm as he was at Harvard; as interested in literary history as in archaeology and the deep interior of the Irish imagination; as concerned with childhood, memory, and family as with the darkest aspects of human life. In introducing these poems, I reflect on Heaney’s importance in my own life, and the huge impact his death had on me, ten years ago this month.
The poems I read are:
The episode ends with Heaney's reading of "The Tollund Man."
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