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Seamus Heaney

Think of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney and you mightn’t automatically think of Australia. What the name invokes for most readers, I would hazard, are the vivid landscapes of Ireland (‘The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap / of soggy peat’). Heaney (1939–2013) might have been a man of the world, but he was rooted half a world away.

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Human Chain by Seamus Heaney & Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney by Dennis O’Driscoll

December 2010–January 2011, no. 327

Auden wrote of the mature Herman Melville that he ‘sailed into an extraordinary mildness’. The same sort of thing could be found in Seamus Heaney, even though he has always written with a degree of calm, with hospitable decorum. It was this level-headedness that enabled him to write about sectarian violence in the magisterial Station Island poems (1984) ...