You can now read 5 articles in a month for free on BostonGlobe.com. Read as much as you want anywhere and anytime for just 99¢.

editorial

Seamus Heaney: Finding beauty in a scarred homeland

Seamus Heaney, here in 1999, died in Dublin Friday.

The New York Times/file

Seamus Heaney, here in 1999, died in Dublin Friday.

Seamus Heaney cast a long shadow, even for a man who won the Nobel Prize in Literature for his poetry. His crisp, simple style and vivid natural imagery won him a broad following. Yet the simplicity of his language also laid bare the contradictions at the heart of modern Ireland.

Continue reading it below

This is why Heaney’s death Friday in Dublin after a short illness was such a profound loss. Born Catholic in Protestant-controlled Northern Ireland, Heaney experienced firsthand the inequality that has scarred his home for generations. But he failed to let that trauma define him. While his work is deeply critical of British rule, he was also outspoken in his love of English culture. He refused to be pigeonholed by sectarian divides; instead, his poetry embodied the reconciliation between Ireland and Britain that Northern Ireland is still working to achieve.

Heaney spent much of his career teaching at Harvard, and the sight of the white-haired Nobel laureate stalking in and out of Harvard Yard connected him indelibly to the Boston area in the eyes of many fans. Like his poetry, Heaney transcended national boundaries.

Loading comments...

Wake up with today's top stories.

Want each day's news headlines delivered fresh to your
inbox every morning? Just connect with us
in one of the following ways:
or
Please enter a valid email
BostonGlobe.com will never post anything without asking.
Privacy Policy
Subscriber Log In

You have reached the limit of 5 free articles in a month

Stay informed with unlimited access to Boston’s trusted news source.

  • High-quality journalism from the region’s largest newsroom
  • Convenient access across all of your devices
  • Today’s Headlines daily newsletter
  • Subscriber-only access to exclusive offers, events, contests, eBooks, and more
  • Less than 25¢ a week
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com
Marketing image of BostonGlobe.com