Lifestyle & Belief

Remembering Seamus Heaney, an Irish Poet 'Bigger than Rock Stars'

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Irish Poet Seamus Heaney 1939-2013. (Photo: Reuters/Charles Platiau)

Irish poet Seamus Heaney passed away Friday. He was 74-years-old. The poet won numerous writing awards, including the Nobel Prize.

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(This story is based on a radio interview. Listen to the audio to hear it.)

"I met him when I was a teenager," says another Irish poet Paul Muldoon, about his friend. "I was about 16 at the time and he was 28 and already a very famous poet."

Muldoon talks about how violence during The Troubles in Northern Ireland affected Heaney's work. Indeed the Troubles seeped into many of the poems that Heaney wrote throughout his life.

But Muldoon says Heaney, "Refused, despite a certain amount of pressure, to come out on one side or the other. There were moments where he was more decisively asserting his more nationalist background when he describes how, 'No glass has ever been raised to toast the queen of England.'"

Muldoon says it's very difficult to for people in the US to understand what an extraordinary role Seamus Heaney as a poet had in Irish life.

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