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“Walk on air against your better judgement.”

That line above is the epitaph in the gravestone of Seamus Heaney, which he wrote himself. Heaney’s family is compiling 100 of his poems into a new collection, most of them for their greatness, but others for what they meant personally to the family. (“The first 70 or 75 almost self-selected, they agree, and it was in the final 25 the choices became more significant.”) He memorably wrote poems for his grandchildren, including the last poem he ever wrote, “In Time”:

Chris: “Mum says she saw him watching the Proms, and his fingers.” He taps on the side of his armchair. “She says she could sometimes tell: he’d be tapping the fingers, which would be metre, rhythm, working out the line, the syllables. She’d look and say, ‘Ah, there’s something going on under the bonnet.’ ”

Such lovely remembrances from them of him, as a father and poet. He sounds like he was a special man.

June 30, 2018 in Books | Permalink

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