Tuesday, 3 September 2013


SEAMUS HEANEY                                                                JESUS CHRIST

BORN IN A FARMHOUSE                                                        BORN IN A STABLE

LOVED IN BELLAGHY                                                              HATED IN NAZARETH

WEALTHY POET                                                                         PENNILESS CARPENTER

GOOD WITH WORDS                                                                WORD OF GOD

MARRIED WITH CHILDREN                                                  WANDERING PREACHER

LIVED IN A NICE HOUSE                                                         HOMELESS

GOOD REPUTATION                                                                 BAD REPUTATION

ATE AT BANQUETS                                                                    ATE WITH SINNERS

PRAISED BY ALL                                                                       CONDEMNED BY MOST

LOVED IN DUBLIN 4                                                  UNKNOWN IN DUBLIN 4

UPPER MIDDLE CLASS                                                    CRIMINAL CLASS

WON NOBEL PRIZE                                                         WON CROWN OF THORNS

PUBLISHED BY FABER                                                             WROTE NO BOOK

DIED AT 74                                                                                   DIED AT 33

DIED IN PRIVATE CLINIC                                                        DIED ON TOWN DUMP

ARCHBISHOP AT FUNERAL                                              ENEMY OF CHIEF PRIESTS 

THOUSANDS AT FUNERAL                                                      4 AT FUNERAL

BURIED IN FAMILY PLOT                                              BURIED - BORROWED GRAVE

MOURNED BY WORLD                                                             MOURNED BY FEW


Bishop Pat Buckley


  1. With the greatest of respect to the late Seamus Heaney and his family what has transpired over the past 4 days has been a lot of "Dublin 4 self indulgence",best exlempified by Bono on RTE Radio 1 last saturday,when asked by Marian Finnucane what attracted him to Heaneys poetry Bono relied " its subversive ",now pardon me but if Heaneys poetry was "subversive" then Pope Francis is a member of the taliban who will annonce next week that Bishop pat Buckley is to be the new archbishop Of Dublin.....Heaney subversive...now theres a good one..or maybe I'm just not intelligent/rich enough to get it!Mike

  2. If he hasn't rejected the faith, then he's still Catholic. I don't understand what you are getting at. We have no perfect Catholics or christians! I don't think it's the place of a blog to be inquiring into whether he is perfectly in tune with official dogma or goes to church sufficiently to be a follower of Jesus Christ. Francis wouldn't do that. Lots of my church-going friends are not perfectly in line either, and we consider them Catholic or Christian. A very unfair blog today.

    Julia B

    1. He rejected Catholicism - in the nicest possible way - and declared himself agnostic.

      Don't be so small-minded, dear.

    2. He made it clear that while he respected his Catholic upbringing, it wasn't something he still believed in. He did as good as tell everyone in the 'Squarings' sequence that the afterlife is a fiction.

      Don't be so small-minded in future.

  3. Communal v individual religious identity?

    My Father was a great man and had a large funeral but he was also a humble man.


  4. Good question! I've asked it in a couple of places. I have not read enough of his work to form an intelligent opinion. From the bits I've read it strikes me that Heaney was a believer, so I do think labeling him as a poet who was Catholic goes beyond simple tribal identity. Was there enough Catholic thought and world view in his work to label him a Catholic poet as Flannery O'Connor is a Catholic fiction writer, I just can't answer.


  5. Dear beloved soul brother as they lay you down to rest
    I will take up pen and write a poem for you and yours
    Bellagy boy man yellow bittern you will always sing
    the soul song of the north of Ireland for you are all it
    you and your way with turn of phrase and wit of gem
    you told us who we were and why between the lines
    we breathe the fresh air of sheets blown in the wind
    on your mammy's clothes line outside in the yard
    Seamus beloved soul brother there will be no goodbyes
    for you have felt the essence of yourself with us forever
    for you have finished the book of life and now you get
    to wake up to the big cosmic world of the one breath
    I am sure they all came to meet you your mammy
    your daddy and the little brother along with dogs
    and maybe a cat or two and lots of birds and cows
    for you are in heaven in eternal bliss where no words
    are needed for you the very breath of life itself
    I will see you everywhere now in wind and rain
    in the dance before me of nature you will be there
    as sure as day follows night you will be there and
    you will visit all the freedom fighters who died
    catholic protestant it never mattered to you anyway
    trival things like that never did but death mattered
    you never mentioned much about the war at all
    you cared deeply and felt the sorrow of the years
    you felt the bombs and the stench of death as only
    a poet can do and you wrote them lines to help
    to heal the sorrow of the past dear man of god
    you put pen to paper so often in your name you did
    you sent me a postcard years ago to say my poetry
    did you good and I read and reread everyword
    until it pestered me so much I threw in it the fire
    and forgot to look at the picture of the frontside
    you quoted thomas the rhymer and like he said
    i will dance on your grave yes my soul brother
    i will dance on your grave and drink a toast too
    for you were my articultator always to the north

    Peacewalker like Jesus himself

  6. As we part from Seamus Heaney for a while and send him from us on that way, what our forefathers called "slí na firinne", we accompany him in faith and hope and with the viaticum of our prayers.


  7. Heaney's poem 'A Constable Calls' is generally about the fear between the hatred of the religions of a Protestant government and Catholics. Basically Heaney and his father work on a farm and are paid a visit by a police officer who bears the name of the opposing religion. What he suggests within the quote "a shadow bobbed" is that Protestants are always bearing down on Catholics. His use of the word 'bobbed' advocates that he represents the Catholic community and is overshadowed by the Protestants and its Government. Henceforth this childhood memory is one that always comes back to Heaney's mind, constantly following him like a shadow.

    Perhaps he is like Jesus because he spoke the truth in the face of violence.

  8. How interesting Jesus vs Seamus Heaney! Is this some sort of Lyrical Rap? It's at times like this I would take my hat (not bishop's) off to you if I had one. I will copy & paste your example & if I use it in public I'll give you the credit for coming up with it. Sean

  9. If we use "Casualty" as an example, we can analyse Heaney's writing to see if and how his poetry transcends its time, meaning and place to rise above cultural ideology and attain universality.

    In 'Casualty," Heaney begins by describing the subtle actions of a "sly" fisherman who directs others' actions to his benefit, allbeit only in a pub. Heaney switches to describing a conversation between the fisherman and himself in which Heaney explains that his "other life" as an academician and poet is far beyond the understanding of the fisherman and then deftly turns the talk back to the everyday and mundane, with a reference to the political, "Provisionals" (IRA):

    He mentioned poetry.
    We would be on our own
    And, always politic
    And shy of condescension,
    I would manage by some trick
    To switch the talk to eels
    Or lore of the horse and cart
    Or the Provisionals.

    It is not until after Heaney has established this one man's singular humanity and the relationship the two had--universalities of unique humanity and relationship--that he mentions the issues that are particular to Ireland and "The Troubles."

    He was blown to bits
    Out drinking in a curfew
    Others obeyed, three nights
    After they shot dead
    The thirteen men in Derry.
    PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said,
    BOGSIDE NIL. That Wednesday
    Everyone held
    His breath and trembled.

    It is by developing universalities of life, humanity, experience and relationship--the uniqueness of human life is a universality--whether it be the life of a person or a "small mammal" ("Gifts of Rain"), before addressing the deeper political meaning of his poems that Heaney adds appeal that rises above dividing cultural and ideological differences.

  10. Blackberry-Picking Theme of Religion
    Heaney's main message in "Blackberry-Picking" is, "nothing's permanent, and we never get used to it," and that's what's important to remember. But Jesus Christ also plays a big role in this poem, complicating that message a little. If you think about it, it's the Christian belief to be all right with the death of everything on earth because there is Heaven to look forward to. From the Eucharist to the crucifixion, Jesus really dominates the symbolism. But keep in mind that although religion and religious imagery are big in this poem, that doesn't mean the poem is really "about" that. We wouldn't call this a Christian poem. It's much more universal than that. The Christianity just seems to be there because it was a big part of the speaker's youth.

  11. High quality global journalism requires investment. Please share this article with others using the link below, do not cut & paste the article. See our Ts&Cs and Copyright Policy for Heaney is a political writer in the sense that the responsible citizen, participating in the affairs of society, is political. He comes from the Nationalist community and understands its workings and aspirations, but he has been nobody’s spokesman.

    Heaney struggled with his faith greatly and was hurt by the serious sin of the Catholic Church.

    RIP - Seamus. Co. Derry Catholic

  12. For Seamus Heaney, as it is for many who originate from Northern Ireland, religion is closely allied to politics. Heaney's religious ideals, however, extend beyond the divisiveness of sectarianism, and stem from the desire for unity, balance and redress. He finds these religious and social ideals voiced by Simone Weil, the religious writer and social activist. The religious nature of Heaney's early poems originates in part from his regard for the landscape as a sacramental book that offers an alternative reality beyond the covert level of meaning. By naming or renaming a place, one has written or rewritten one's meanings onto it, endowing it with an alternative reality. Hence, the first task of historical redress is to recover the poet's alternative or Celtic heritage beneath the Anglicisation of placenames. The second task, which balances and interrogates the first, is to seek out the linguistic heritage shared by the Celts and their British colonisers. Heaney's etymological endeavours, therefore, work to uncover and unite the different and yet interrelated cultural identities of Ireland and Northern Ireland. Likewise, his desire for equilibrium enables him to reread and interrogate the wounded text-bodies of sectarian 'martyrs', thereby challenging their apotheosis. He compares the poet to a medieval poet-scribe whose function was to negotiate between two differing visions of reality, the 'pagan' and the Christian. Similarly, he believes the present-day poet may offer the middle way of peace and redress.

    Your blog today is complicated and deserves further expanding.

    Prof. English Lit

  13. Wasn't Seamus and his family so lucky that he resided and had his funeral in Dublin 4. Had he died in the meath area in the diocese of Bishop Smyth then there would have been no eulogies, no personal tributes, no secular (Inc Celtic) music or would there have been.......hypothetical, I know, but would Smyth have been leaned on !!

  14. Lol The very thought expressed by the last contributor struck me yesterday. Could you imagine Smyth's face if he had been told that the funeral was to be held in one of his churches.
    Smyth, typical of the hypocritical bunch the Irish bishops are, would have cleared the way for due tribute to be paid to this great man