The Death of Seamus Heaney, aged 74

Saddened by the (too early) death of one of the world's greatest poets, at the age of 74. Announcement here. This is an extract from one of my favourite poems, on the Poetry Foundation's website. It's deceptively simple and as unassuming as Seamus Heaney was himself. 


Between my finger and my thumb   
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds   
Bends low, comes up twenty years away   
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills   
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft   
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.   
Just like his old man. . . . (Click here to read on)


  1. A great poet. Sad he is gone too soon, as you say. I read once that he was the only poet in the English-speaking world to make a good living from his poetry. I hope that was true. Sad for all the other wonderful poets though who couldn't make a good living from their poetry.

  2. So wonderful to read all the tributes to him in our blog community! This poem exemplifies, for me, that ability of his to dig down (excuses for the pun) to the heart of the matter, no frou-frou.

    Thank you for posting this.



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