Heaney deserves place among the pantheon, says Dorgan
Sense of ‘collective shock’ among followers of Nobel Prize winner’s poetry
Late poet Seamus Heaney as he appeared in 1970. Photograph: PA Wire
There was “collective shock” among the literary community today at the sudden passing of “one of the world’s greatest writers”.
Poet Theo Dorgan has said late poet Seamus Heaney would react in “half embarrassment” at being compared to the great Irish writers such as W.B Yeats, James Joyce and Oscar Wilde, but “he deserved it. He is there”. He was also a very loved poet and people “just beamed” in his presence.
He had, more than any other poet he met, “genuine humility. He knew his gift was just that, a gift”. He was a supportive writer who offered “solidarity and companionship” to others aspiring to be poets, he said.
Video: Heaney on art of writing poetry
Fellow poet Thomas Kinsella said he knew from Seamus Heaney’s early poems that the writer was the “real thing”. Kinsella described himself as “still in a state of shock” following the news of his death.
Novelist Colum McCannsaid Heaney had brought “incredible joy” to readers. He was a “truly decent man who operated so well in the world”. He had his sudden death had led to a sense of “collective shock” among the followers of his poetry, he said.
Poet and friend Michael Longley said he was “personally bereaved at this very sad news” and felt that he had lost a brother. He had read with Heaney two weeks ago in Lisdoonvarna and it was a “very happy occasion”.
He told Heaney that the poems he had written as a young man were “miracles” and he continued to write “miraculous poems throughout his life”. He said Heaney was an extraordinarily popular poet given the complexity of much of his writings.
Poet John McAuliffe said that Heaney’s poems and “advocacy of the art of poetry” had “defined the horizon” of his gneration of poets.
“His attention to language, the carefulness with which he prepared even short speeches or statements at festivals and launches, meant his presence at public occasions was a signal example,” he said. .
“For younger writers he was not only a great encourager, but a canny adviser who would often manage a quiet word in the snug of an after-hours festival club or at the back table of a downtown café, an intellectually brilliant man who still read new poetry with a curiosity which drew on his own depth of feeling and learning,” he said.
In a statement, Heaney’s publisher Faber and Faber said it could not adequately address the profound sorrow at “the loss of one of the world’s greatest writers”. It said his “ impact on literary culture is immeasurable.”