On the Far Side of Revenge

Remembering Seamus Heaney. At the start of ¡Pistoleros! 1:1918, Heaney is quoted:

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. So hope for a great sea-change on the far side of revenge, Believe that a further shore is reachable from here. Believe in miracles and cures and healing wells.

Here he is in conversation with Bernard O’Donoghue about his life and the influences that inform his work , with Nick Laird, Andrew O’Hagan, Jon Stallworthy and Jo Shapcott reading selections of Heaney’s work.

Categories: Poetry


2 replies

  1. Although I’m not a great reader of poetry, I was just gutted at his loss. I said jokingly to friends that I never expected him to die, just wear away like old stone. My wife had it better: she expected him to get slowly stiffer and more leathery till he turned into one of the bog skeletons that appeared from time to time in the sod of his own work.

    Like every person in the Irish education system from the 80s onward, our lives were touched by Heaney, through his anthology The Rattlebag, which was on every english language syllabus for the inter cert (now junior cert).

    It did occur to me yesterday that in his own way, he put paid to the foolish ideas of foreigners across the Border that seem to be part and parcel of the independence debate at the moment. He was from the Six Counties, a Derryman who lived in the Republic for a long time, but he understood and could speak for the whole island, even after all the decades of conflict visited on us following the work of the Boundary Commission in 1925. Robyn Marsack has put a lovely piece up about him on the Scottish Poetry Library’s blog, which does well by him. Worth a read:


  2. John Bellany died with a paintbrush in his hand..
    Sad to see him go..


    Seamus Heaney has gone.. Loved his work and his Beowulf really brought that old thing to life for me..

    In 1975’s Act Of Union, he took the map of Britain and Ireland and turned it into an image of a married couple lying in bed together, Ireland surrounded and mastered by the masculine Britain.

    ‘The Act Of Union, he said once before reading the poem, was both a political and a sexual concept.

    “To put it metaphorically, and yet historically, Ireland, the feminine country, was entered by England, possessed by England, planted with English seed, withdrawn from by England, and left pregnant with an independent life called Ulster, kicking within her.”‘



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