Make no mistake about it. Seamus Heaney, widely regarded as the world’s greatest poet of the last half century, was Irish.
“Famous Seamus” died today at 74, and his legacy is that of a poet who showed “the finest art in presenting a coherent vision of Ireland, past and present.” That is to say, Heaney was distinctly, and fervently Irish, and not in any way “British.”
Objecting to his inclusion in The Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, Heaney wrote in “An Open Letter” (1983):
Be advised my passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.
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