Seamus Heaney: readers' tributes and reactions

Readers, poets, authors and celebrities pay tribute to the Nobel-winning poet who died today

Poetry-lovers have taken to Twitter, Facebook and comment threads, to pay tribute to the poet Seamus Heaney who died this morning.

One Guardian reader posted this message on our news story thread, summing up what many others were saying:

This is honestly just the saddest news. He was of my heroes, the first poet I'd ever felt connected to and I'd been hoping to see him for the first time next month at the Magherafelt Poetry Festival. What a huge, huge loss.

Others including actor and comedy writer Robert Webb, posted on Twitter:

Between my finger and thumb/ the squat pen rests./ I'll dig with it. RIP Seamus Heaney. If you haven't read him since school: 'Human Chain'

— Robert Webb (@arobertwebb) August 30, 2013

Novelist Kamila Shamsie tweeted her memories of seeing Heaney at the the Edinburgh international books festival:

Greatest @edbookfest memory: #SeamusHeaney reciting 'Digging' in response to audience request for a poem. Teary-eyed then; heartbroken now.

— Kamila Shamsie (@kamilashamsie) August 30, 2013

One of our readers, TheFall2007, also posted their memories of the poet:

Feel tremendously saddened by this news. One of the foremost 20th century men of letters has gone. I remember I was lucky enough to attend a reading by Heaney during my time at Aberdeen University, although I was too awestruck to go up to him afterwards. I now wish I had had.

"Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests,
I'll dig with it"

RIP Seamus Heaney

Billy Bragg posted a quote from Heaney's The Cure at Troy:

"Once in a lifetime, the longed-for tidal wave of justice can rise up and hope and history rhyme" RIP Seamus Heaney

— Billy Bragg (@billybragg) August 30, 2013

Pianist James Rhodes paid tribute with a verse of his own:

Like the locked toilet cubicle, A sanctuary from the school meanie, So, to my soul, the battered book of poetry By Seamus Heaney #EmoPoetry

— James Rhodes (@JRhodesPianist) August 30, 2013

Stephen Fry tweeted a his tribute in verse, quoting and rewriting a couplet from WH Auden's In Memory of W. B. Yeats:

@stephenfry: Oh how sad, just heard of the death of Seamus Heaney. "Earth receive an honoured guest Seamus Heaney's put to rest."

— Stephen Fry (@stephenfry) August 30, 2013

Others, including this reader, have picked their favourite lines of Heaney's own works to remember him by:

A sad day, not just for his family and friends, or the world of literature but for the world itself. A truly great man.


The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

And poet Michael Rosen, tweeted a simple message:

oh no. Seamus Heaney. Loved your work. Bye.

— Michael Rosen (@MichaelRosenYes) August 30, 2013


Guardian readers and Hannah Freeman

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
John Sutherland: Seamus Heaney deserves a lot more than £40,000

John Sutherland: The paltry awards we give our best poets is a sign of how little we value poetry – and that's got to change

John Sutherland

19, Mar, 2009 @12:01 PM

Article image
Seamus Heaney reads his poems on video – which is your favourite?

Ireland's Nobel laureate, the poet Seamus Heaney, has died after a short illness. Here we round up some videos of him reading his poems. Which is your favourite?

30, Aug, 2013 @12:16 PM

Article image
Seamus Heaney obituary

Irish poet and Nobel laureate whose lines of love and loss took inspiration from his childhood in Derry

Neil Corcoran

30, Aug, 2013 @2:16 PM

Article image
Joe Biden's love for Seamus Heaney is evidence of a soul you can trust | Jonathan Jones
The president-elect has often quoted Heaney’s poetry, with his reading of The Cure at Troy going viral after his election victory

Jonathan Jones

09, Nov, 2020 @2:24 PM

Article image
Seamus Heaney remembered
Seamus Heaney was a writer of great power, a brilliant intellect – and the best of company. Roy Foster pays tribute to a giant of world literature

Roy Foster

31, Aug, 2013 @11:07 PM

Article image
Seamus Heaney – an appreciation
In Seamus Heaney's poetry, ordinary objects and places – a sofa, a satchel, the sound of rain – are sanctified. But it has edge and politics, too. Blake Morrison recognises an astonishing poetic achievement

Blake Morrison

06, Sep, 2013 @1:00 PM

Seamus Heaney: Bags of enlightenment
Two decades ago, Seamus Heaney and Ted Hughes collaborated on a landmark poetry anthology. Six years ago - a year before Hughes died - they renewed their partnership. Together, Heaney says, they hoped to wake the sleeping poet in every reader, and to combine learning with pleasure

Seamus Heaney

25, Oct, 2003 @1:56 AM

Article image
Seamus Heaney dies aged 74

Nobel prize-winning Northern Irish poet died this morning in a Dublin hospital after a short illness

Liz Bury

30, Aug, 2013 @10:58 AM

Extract: Human Chain by Seamus Heaney
Poems from the TS Eliot prize-shortlisted collection Human Chain

Seamus Heaney

24, Jan, 2011 @11:28 AM

Article image
Human Chain by Seamus Heaney | Poetry review
Seamus Heaney's latest collection muses upon heredity and absent friends with restraint and rich imagery, writes Kate Kellaway

Kate Kellaway

21, Aug, 2010 @11:04 PM