We gathered together last night. Poets, actors, broadcasters, writers, friends, readers, and a musician. Hundreds of people in the Lyric theatre to celebrate the work of Seamus Heaney.
Those on the stage knew him- Michael Longley ‘has lost a brother’- they spoke of his kindness, his generosity, his sense of fun, his humility, and his powerful choices of words. There were references to essays, interviews and ‘Crediting Poetry’, Heaney’s Nobel speech which reminds us of how grounded he was in our lives. His childhood and youth was ours, or at least that of our parents. Familiar. We understand the context, and the values. And when he needed to write of the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland, we understand that too. That is us, but transcending us- we with our squabbles, heartbreaks and the wireless, we’re just a part of (not apart from) the history of world.
Speakers shared experiences and poetry personal to them. Neil Martin played ancient airs, and we were timeless in a world of inspiration.
Before the kite plunges down into the wood
and this line goes useless
take in your two hands boys, and feel
the strumming, rooted, long-tailed pull of grief.
You were born fit for it.
Stand here in front of me
and take the strain.
*from a line by Damian Gorman