“It Can Entrance You For a Moment…”

The Internet is filling up with tears and tributes to the great poet Seamus Heaney, who died yesterday. Here’s a short and sweet one, well worth reading, by novelist Colum McCann.

Many thanks to Linford Detweiler for passing along these words… the wisdom of Seamus Heaney, from an interview in The Paris Review:

I think the poet who didn’t feel the pressure at a politically difficult time would be either stupid or insensitive.


Debate doesn’t really change things. It gets you bogged in deeper. If you can address or reopen the subject with something new, something from a different angle, then there is some hope. … People are suddenly gazing at something else and pausing for a moment. And for the duration of that gaze and pause, they are like reflectors of the totality of their own knowledge and/or ignorance. That’s something poetry can do for you, it can entrance you for a moment above the pool of your own consciousness and your own possibilities.

And here are some words about Seamus Heaney from Bono:

Every meeting I’ve ever had since I began full-time advocacy, I have brought with me a book of Seamus Heaney’s poems. I always think if you’re asking somebody for something it’s a good idea to give them something first. So I always gave them Seamus Heaney’s poems.

Some of those phrases are like tattoos for me, worn very close to the heart.

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About Jeffrey Overstreet

Jeffrey Overstreet has relaunched a bigger, better version of this blog at LookingCloser.org. The new Looking Closer doesn't have any of the trashy click-bait advertisements that you're probably seeing all over this Patheos page. So give yourself a break.