. . . a wild, post-Shakespearean streel of gallowglass hair."
From "A Coat" - Seamus Heaney
a rare public reading from his works, Seamus Heaney, who received the
Nobel Prize for literature in 1995, honored William M. Chace upon his
retirement from the presidency of Emory University, Atlanta.
a scholar of the Irish poet and author James Joyce, served nine years
as the university's 18th president.
who was born in County Derry in Northern Ireland in 1939, is widely regarded
as one of the finest English language contemporary poets. His critically
acclaimed first book, "Death of a Naturalist," marked the arrival
of a major new poetic voice. During his distinguished career he has published
numerous collections of poems, translations and works of literary criticism.
past May Heaney gave the keynote address at Emory's commencement ceremony
and received an honorary doctor of humane letters degree. His ties to
Emory go back many years, dating to his selection as the inaugural Richard
Ellmann Lecturer in Modern Literature in 1988. These lectures were published
as "The Place of Writing," and his notes for the series were
deposited in Emory's special collections, a seed that has grown into what
many scholars consider the finest archive of contemporary Irish poetry
1984 Heaney was named Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Poetry at Harvard
University, and in 1989 he was named to the prestigious Chair of Poetry
at Oxford University. The year after receiving the Nobel Prize for literature,
his collection of poems "The Spirit Level" was selected as the
Whitbread Book of the Year. His 1999 verse translation of "Beowulf"
was an international bestseller, the same year that his collected poems
"Opened Ground" were published. In 1995 he was named Nobel Laureate
in Literature "for works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which
exalt everyday miracles and the living past." More recently, Heaney
was awarded the 2003 Truman Capote Award for Literary Criticism for "Finders
Keepers: Selected Prose 1971-2001."
below, a set of three of Seamus Heaney's poems:
"I'll make you one," he said, "and
Perfectly on you." And I could almost feel
The plumb line of the creased tweed hit my heel,
My shoulders like a spar or a riding scale
Under the jacket, my whole shape realigned
In ways that suited me down to the ground.
So although a suit was the last thing that I needed
I wore his words and told him that I'd take it
And told myself it was going for a song.
not a mile off it," I heard him say, with an ought
Dragging and lengthening out the sound of that "not"
For Mr Simpson, though he worked in Magherafelt,
Was from Antrim and glottal and more of a Pict than a Celt.
But an Ulsterman. An Ulsterman for sure,
Calling a spade a spade and the door the dure
And any child he was fitting with clothes the wean.
My father poked his cattle-dealer's cane
Into the coats on the coatrack for the only one
That took his fancy and when I had put it on,
"We're not a mile off it," Mr Simpson said again,
Uneager and sure of the sale; and confidentially then,
"Ulster, you know, is the name for an overcoat.
The Oxford English Dictionary even gives it.
Ulster." He paused and he mused. "All over the world
Good cloth and good wear and the whole of your money's worth."
I hear him still when I reach deep into the long
Cold draught of the sleeve of some ulster I'm fitting on
And wish my hand would come through and beyond all that
Deep glottal purchase and worth, like the virtual flight
Of The Red Hand of Ulster beyond the beyond of its myth,
Back to its unbloodied cuff at its unsevered wrist,
Flexing its fingers again and combing the air
And a wild, post-Shakespearean streel of gallowglass hair.
EMORY UNIVERSITY ACQUIRES
SEAMUS HEANEY LETTERS
Robert W. Woodruff Library of Emory University has acquired a major portion
of the archive of the Nobel Prize-winning Irish poet Seamus Heaney.The
collection of personal and literary papers includes thousands of letters
spanning Heaney's entire career as well as printed materials, tape recordings
and photographs. Heaney made the announcement Tuesday, Sept. 23 prior
to a reading at Emory in honor of the university's recently retired president,
William M. Chace.
the latest in a long series of major Irish literary acquisitions by Emory,
establishes at the university the largest and most complete archive anywhere
for the study of Heaney's life and work, according to Stephen Enniss,
the university's director of special collections and archives. "The
Seamus Heaney papers join the archives of Ted Hughes, Paul Muldoon, Anthony
Hecht and other major figures, and create at Emory a leading research
center for the study of contemporary poetry," says Enniss.
The Seamus Heaney papers which Emory has acquired span Heaney's career
from 1964 to the present and include correspondence with a wide literary
circle including such writers as Brian Friel, Anthony Hecht, Ted Hughes,
Michael Longley, Robert Lowell, Paul Muldoon and Robert Pinsky, to name
only a few. The archive will cast light on the creative lives of a wide
literary circle, while at the same time serving as the primary resource
for future studies of Heaney's own work, according to Enniss. Once processing
of the collection is completed, the archive will be available for research
use by students and scholars.
"We are honored by the recognition accorded Emory by Seamus, and
we receive his papers with profound gratitude," says Ronald Schuchard,
Goodrich C. White Professor of English at Emory and an expert in contemporary
Irish literature. "Seamus Heaney's full literary life and his citizenship
in what he calls 'the republic of conscience' have placed his voice and
writings at the center of intellectual culture for many years. His correspondence
comes to us through a tremendous personal act of trust and confidence
built up over 20 years as a friend of Emory. These papers will bring scores
of students and scholars from many countries to Emory every year, and
we hope to prove worthy of the great and welcome responsibility that it
University is a highly selective, comprehensive research university known
for its academically demanding undergraduate college, highly ranked professional
schools and world-class research facilities. For more than a decade, Emory
has been named one of the country's top 25 national universities by U.S.
News & World Report. In addition to its nine schools, the university
encompasses The Carter Center, Yerkes National Primate Research Center
and Emory Healthcare, a comprehensive metropolitan health care system.