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Seamus Heaney quotes Showing 1-30 of 130

“If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way.”
Seamus Heaney, Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney
“Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.”
Seamus Heaney
“It is always better
to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning.
For every one of us, living in this world
means waiting for our end. Let whoever can
win glory before death. When a warrior is gone,
that will be his best and only bulwark.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“Walk on air against your better judgement.”
Seamus Heaney
“Behaviour that's admired
is the path to power among people everywhere.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what's said and what's done.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.”
Seamus Heaney
“History says, Don’t hope
On this side of the grave,
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme”
Seamus Heaney
“All I know is a door into the dark”
Seamus Heaney
“The end of art is peace.”
Seamus Heaney
“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“If self is a location, so is love:
Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points,
Options, obstinacies, dug heels, and distance,
Here and there and now and then, a stance.”
Seamus Heaney, District and Circle
“I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.”
Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist
“Now it’s high watermark
and floodtide in the heart
and time to go.
The sea-nymphs in the spray
will be the chorus now.
What’s left to say?

Suspect too much sweet-talk
but never close your mind.
It was a fortunate wind
that blew me here. I leave
half-ready to believe
that a crippled trust might walk

and the half-true rhyme is love.”
Seamus Heaney, The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes
“I shall gain glory or die.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“That was their way, their heathenish hope; deep in their hearts they remembered hell.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“The main thing is to write
for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust
that imagines its haven like your hands at night
dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.
You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous.
Take off from here.”
Seamus Heaney, Station Island
“The way we are living,
timorous or bold,
will have been our life.”
Seamus Heaney
“So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.”
seamus heaney
“Sink every impulse like a bolt. Secure
The bastion of sensation. Do not waver
Into language. Do not waver in it.”
Seamus Heaney
“There is risk and truth to yourselves and the world before you. ”
Seamus Heaney
“Since when," he asked,
"Are the first line and last line of any poem
Where the poem begins and ends?”
Seamus Heaney
“Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.”
Seamus Heaney, Death of a Naturalist
“The aim of poetry and the poet is finally to be of service, to ply the effort of the individual into the larger work of the community as a whole.”
Seamus Heaney
“It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir; that Tacitus was right and that peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power.”
Seamus Heaney, Crediting Poetry: The Nobel Lecture
“And a young prince must be prudent like that,
giving freely while his father lives
so that afterwards, in age when fighting starts
steadfast companions will stand by him
and hold the line.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“A ring-whorled prow rode in the harbour,
ice-clad, outbound, a craft for a prince.
They stretched their beloved lord in his boat,
laid out by the mast, amidships,
the great ring-giver. Far fetched treasures
were piled upon him, and precious gear.
I have never heard before of a ship so well furbished
with battle tackle, bladed weapons
and coats of mail. The massed treasure
was loaded on top of him: it would travel far
on out into the ocean's sway.
They decked his body no less bountifully
with offerings than those first ones did
who cast him away when he was a child
and launched him alone over the waves.
And they set a gold standard up
high above his head and let him drift
to wind and tide, bewailing him
and mourning their loss. No man can tell,
no wise man in hall or weathered veteran
knows for certain who salvaged that load.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
“Meanwhile, the sword
began to wilt into gory icicles,
to slather and thaw. It was a wonderful thing,
the way it all melted as ice melts
when the Father eases the fetters off the frost
and unravels the water-ropes. He who wields power
over time and tide: He is the true Lord.”
Seamus Heaney, Beowulf
tags: sword
“I suppose I'm saying that defiance is actually part of the lyric job”
Seamus Heaney

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Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 Opened Ground
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