Seamus Heaney reads “St. Kevin and the Blackbird”

I’m sad to learn of the death of Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, who has been called Ireland’s most important poet since W. B. Yeats. Among the many treasures in  his body of work, I especially love “St. Kevin and the Blackbird” which we can see the poet reading in the following video. This was on the occasion of Heaney’s 70th birthday and his publisher’s 80th anniversary; with that in mind, his comments at the beginning of the video before reading the poem are well said, and quite important in our time when the future of literary publishing seems so uncertain.

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If you want to see the poem, and hear an audio recording of the poet reading it, visit this page: “St Kevin and the Blackbird” at

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  • Duke

    RIP Seamus Heaney 2013

    Under the cliff, Fintan waited

    He watched as the floods rose, rose,

    Never fell. He heard the women wail,

    Wait and accept. He felt the change

    Through his nostrils, flattening to gills,

    His arms thinning to fins, his torso

    Tightening into a single thrash:

    The undulating flair of a great fish.

    Nothing human would last. For centuries

    He slept at the bottom of the world,

    Currents stroking his sleek, strong back.

    Slowly, the old care earth reappeared,

    Barren, but with a rainbow brightened.

    Life might begin again. He lunges upwards.