Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney Justin ( ' ʃeɪməs ' hi ː ni; * April 13, 1939 near Castledawson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland; † August 30, 2013 in Dublin) was an Irish writer and 1995 recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature.


Seamus Heaney was born as the first child of nine children from a Catholic farming family; the father acted with cattle. After the non-denominational elementary school Anahorish Heaney attended from 1951 to 1957 with a grant from the Catholic boarding school St. Columb 's College in Londonderry. With a scholarship Heaney was the subject study English at Queen's University in Belfast from 1957 to 1961. Among his fellow students at that time belonged to the later Canadian writer George McWhirter and the later Irish literary scholar and writer Seamus Deane.

After graduation, Heaney worked as a teacher at the St. Thomas Secondary School and at St. Joseph College in Belfast, and since 1966 as a lecturer at Queen 's University. In the academic year 1970/71, he became a guest lecturer at the University of California, Berkeley. After the dismissal pronounced by him to Belfast's university post Heaney moved in 1972 with his family in the county of Wicklow in the Republic of Ireland to the Glanmore Cottage, where he usually wrote his poems. Since 1976, Heaney lived in a house in a suburb of Dublin, Ireland. There he taught at Carysfort College, before he took up a professorship in rhetoric at Harvard University in the United States from 1985 to 2006. At the same time, he was from 1989 to 1994 Professor of Poetry at Oxford University. He was a Saoi at Aosdána.

Heaney was involved as a supporter of the Citizens' Initiative Ireland for Europe for the approval of Ireland on the Treaty of Lisbon.

Seamus Heaney was married to the teacher Marie Devlin; the couple had two sons and a daughter. He died in August 2013 at the age of 74 years.


Heaney's poems first appeared in London and Belfast magazines after 1961. His early books, Death of a Naturalist (1966) and Door into the Dark ( 1969), established his reputation as a contemporary poet. In his works he often dealt with his home country, with its history, some of them with Irish legends and myths.

The poetry books Wintering Out ​​( 1972) and North (1975 ) reflect on the one hand against the Northern Ireland conflict, but without that one could describe as a political poet in the strict sense Heaney; On the other hand, they have both Irish and English poetry traditions that make Heaney in the cultural identity appear as British and as a member of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. Literary significant Heaney is perhaps even with those poems in which he describes natural experiences and interprets as metaphors for the human being, such as in the initiation poem Death of a Naturalist.

In 1990 he published his first play, The cure at Troy. In 1999 he wrote a modern English translation of Beowulf in alliterative verse. In 2010 he published his poetry collection Human Chain.


In 1968 he was awarded for his work Death of a Naturalist the Geoffrey Faber Memorial Prize and the 1994 Horst- Bienek Prize for Poetry. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 2006 he was awarded the TS Eliot Prize. In January 2008, Heaney was awarded the Cunningham Medal, the highest award of the Royal Irish Academy. In the same year he was awarded the David Cohen Prize for his oeuvre and 2011 the Irish Book ' Lifetime Achievement Award '.


English editions

  • Blackberry Picking
  • Mid Term Break
  • Eleven Poems (Belfast: Festival Publications, Queen's University, 1965)
  • Digging (Faber & Faber, 1966)
  • Death of a Naturalist (Faber & Faber, 1966)
  • A Lough Neagh Sequence ( Manchester: Phoenix Pamphlet Poets Press, 1969)
  • Door into the Dark ( Faber & Faber, 1969)
  • Boy Driving His Father to Confession ( Surrey: Sceptre Press, 1970 )
  • Night Drive (Devon: Richard Gilbertson, 1970)
  • Servant Boy (Detroit: Red Hanrahan Press, 1971 )
  • Wintering Out ​​( Faber & Faber, 1972)
  • The Fire i 'the Flint: Reflections on the Poetry of Gerard Manley Hopkins (Oxford University Press, 1975 )
  • North (Faber & Faber, 1975)
  • Field Work (Faber & Faber, 1979)
  • Selected Poems 1965-1975 (Faber & Faber, 1980)
  • An Open Letter ( Field Day, 1983)
  • Station Iceland (Faber & Faber, 1984)
  • The Haw Lantern ( Faber & Faber, 1987)
  • New Selected Poems 1966-1987 (Faber & Faber, 1990)
  • Seeing Things (Faber & Faber, 1991)
  • Sweeney 's Flight ( with Rachel Giese, photographer ) ( Faber & Faber, 1992)
  • The Spirit Level (Faber & Faber, 1996)
  • Opened Ground: Poems 1966-1996 (Faber & Faber, 1998)
  • Electric Light (Faber & Faber, 2001)
  • District and Circle (Faber & Faber, 2006)


  • Beowulf. A New Verse Translation. WW Norton, New York City, New York, USA 2001, ISBN 0-393-32097-9.

German editions

  • North. North. Poems. English and German. Translated from the English by Richard Pietraß transferred. Epilogue by Wolfgang Wicht. Reclam, Leipzig, 1987, ISBN 3-379-00150-3.
  • The rose hips lantern. The Haw Lantern. Poems. English and German. Translated from the English by Giovanni Bandini transferred and Ditte king. Hanser, Munich 1990, ISBN 3-446-15333-0.
  • Selected poems. Translated from the English by Giovanni Bandini transmitted, Ditte King and Richard Pietraß. Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1995, ISBN 3-446-18284-5.
  • A Defence of Poetry. Oxford lectures. Translated from English by Giovanni Bandini and Ditte king. Hanser, Munich / Vienna 1996, ISBN 3-446-18750-4 ( ISBN formally wrong ).
  • The water balance. Poems. English and German. Translated from the English by Giovanni Bandini transferred and Ditte king. Hanser, Munich 1998, ISBN 3-446-19297-2.
  • Electric light. Poems. English and German. Translated from the English by Giovanni Bandini transferred and Ditte king. Hanser, Munich 2002, ISBN 3-446-20141-6.
  • Poesiealbum 283, Maerkischer Publisher Wilhelmshorst 2009, ISBN 978-3-931329-83-9
  • The blackbird of Glanmore. . Poems 1965 - 2006 Edited by: Michael Krüger. Fischer, Frankfurt / M. 2011, ISBN 978-3596191352