Seamus Heaney, Nobelist Poet, Dead at 74

Called 'most significant Irish poet of his generation'

By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff

Posted Aug 30, 2013 7:01 AM CDT

(Newser) – Irish poet Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, has died at age 74 following a recent illness. A former teacher who lived in Londonderry, Northern Ireland, Heaney was widely considered the best Irish poet since WB Yeats, the BBC notes; the Irish Times calls him "the most significant Irish poet of his generation." Ireland and Northern Ireland are paying tribute to Heaney, with figures from government leaders to athletes hailing his work.

"Seamus Heaney was the voice of this community, a man of the people who knew his community well and reflected the history and cultural richness of that community," said politician Patsy McGlone. "Anywhere I have ever travelled in the world ... you mention poetry and literature and the name of Seamus Heaney comes up immediately," added Ireland's arts minister Jimmy Deenihan, per the BBC. Indeed, Heaney was a favorite of Bill Clinton, who called his poetry a gift "to the world and a gift to me in difficult times," joking that his dog was named after the poet.

A Sunday, Dec. 10, 1995 photo shows Irish poet Seamus Heaney, center, displaying his Nobel literature prize medal, surrounded by his family.
A Sunday, Dec. 10, 1995 photo shows Irish poet Seamus Heaney, center, displaying his Nobel literature prize medal, surrounded by his family.   (AP Photo/Eric Roxfelt, File)
Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney speaks during a rehearsal for the Northern Irish national Holocaust commemoration at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland.
Nobel Prize-winning poet Seamus Heaney speaks during a rehearsal for the Northern Irish national Holocaust commemoration at the Waterfront Hall, Belfast, Northern Ireland.   (AP Photo/Peter Morrison, File)
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