I was driving to or from some meeting or other recently – I can’t recall which – when I heard Mark Lawson presenting a programme about Dennis O’Driscoll’s new book of interviews with Seamus Heaney. It was a delightful programme, and a pleasure to hear both Dennis and Seamus. I came home and ordered the book (I know I’m supposed to be economising, but …) and it arrived today. I wish I could set aside a few days to just read it, but I know it’ll have to be read in quick snatched moments between other things – I am really a bit over-stretched these days.
However, to Seamus. He has a wonderfully warm and engaging personality, and he’s one of our best poets – however you want to define ‘our’. I put the description in that order, because although I love his poetry, it’s his humanity I most admire. He’s amusing, inquisitive, interested and caring – a fine combination for any poet. I’m so glad he’s recovered well from the mild stroke he had a couple of years ago. At that time his doctor told him to do nothing for a year – no public engagements, no travelling, no broadcasts, nothing. Bad news for his friends and admirers, and for a certain poetry festival I could mention, but sound advice. Doubtless he’s now accepting fewer engagements than he used to, but he’s starting to get out and about more, and he sounds in fine fettle.
Here’s a health to you Seamus. Long may you keep digging with that fine pen of yours.