Sad news for the poetry world today; the death of Seamus Heaney. Heaney was also from Northern Ireland (depending on what way you look at it – after all, some would say he was born in Derry and others would say Londonderry, but I’m not about to argue semantics). I haven’t read that much of his work, although my favourite poem so far is ‘The Early Purges’, which when written I’m sure wasn’t as controversial as it might be perceived today – we now live in a politically correct culture that on the one hand is good (equality for all, right?), but on the flip side has choked the freedom of expression out of cinema/literature, to some extent. I could digress in a million different directions with all this, but let’s stick to the poem for now – animals being drowned in rivers and people turning a blind eye. You can’t say it’s not gritty.
There are many writers and poets from Northern Ireland, but Seamus Heaney is probably the most famous. Northern Irish people in general definitely have a sardonic sense of humour – from chip shops called ‘For Cod and Ulster’ to the new Titanic Museum’s slogan, “She was alright when she left here”:
Anyway, back to famous figures from Northern Ireland dying today, on August 30. According to the Belfast Telegraph, Jenny the elephant from Belfast Zoo has also died, aged 53. Not quite the ripe old age of 74, but then I don’t know how elephant years correspond to human years. I’m sure Seamus Heaney would be proud to know that – I would. Or maybe not. Check out his poem, ‘The Early Purges‘ and see what you think.