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Hope and history rhyme - Seamus Heaney’s memorable lines

Irish poet, playwright and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney

Irish poet, playwright and Nobel prize winner Seamus Heaney

Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney died in Dublin on Friday.

His work has been read and recited by generations of schoolchildren and world statesmen alike.

Here are some of his most memorable lines:

:: “Between my finger and my thumb, The squat pen rests; snug as a gun” - from his poem Digging.

:: “When History says, don’t hope, On this side of the grave. But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme” - from the play The Cure At Troy.

The lines were quoted by then US president Bill Clinton in a speech about the Northern Ireland peace process delivered in Londonderry in 1995.

:: “It’s like being a little foothill at the bottom of a mountain range, you hope you just live up to it” - Heaney on receiving the Nobel Prize and being regarded as the equal of WB Yeats.

:: “Wearing a poppy bruise on the left temple, He lay in the four foot box as in a cot. No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear. A four foot box, a foot for every year” - from his poem Mid-term Break.

:: “It was like opening the back door of our own house, looking out on the fields” - Heaney on the influence of reading his fellow poet, Patrick Kavanagh.

:: “The life of poetry at its most vital is a life of fear I think and panic that it will leave” - Heaney describing his worry that his poetic inspiration might run out.

 

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