Seamus Heaney


Granta, which began its modern incarnation in 1979, has published twelve Nobel literature laureates: Saul Bellow, Heinrich Böll, Joseph Brodsky, J.M. Coetzee, Nadine Gordimer, Günter Grass, Seamus Heaney, Doris Lessing, Gabriel García Márquez, V.S. Naipaul, Orhan Pamuk and Harold Pinter. Some of these writers found early acclaim in these pages. Many have had a long relationship with the magazine. Today we showcase the poet and essayist Seamus Heaney.

Heaney won the Nobel in 1995 for ‘works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past’. In poem after poem, Heaney maps his native Northern Ireland’s contours and conceits, its history, mythology and political reality. The acclaimed American poet Robert Lowell thought Heaney ‘the most important Irish poet since Yeats’. The comment is accurate but also rather restrictive: Heaney has a place not only amongst the most important Irish poets, but amongst the most important poets in the world.

Heaney appeared in Granta 102: ‘The New Nature Writing’, where he examined one of his favourite objects – a Y-shaped sapling – with characteristic intelligence, grace and depth. Read Heaney’s Granta essay here.