Being invited to this event by some Irish friends somehow added to the poignancy of this very special occasion – a tribute to Seamus Heaney. A wonderful exploration and celebration of his life at the South Bank hosted by Andrew O’Hagan who added anecdotes and information in such a gentle manner.
It started with a huge photograph of Heaney and a recording of his own voice reading ‘Digging’ The format of the evening showed more photographs and poems depicting different ages and stages in his life
Liam O’Flyn and Neil Martin, with uillenn pipes and cello seemed to take us to his roots. Paul Muldoon following this with a reading ‘Death of a Naturalist’.
‘Personal Helicon’ was read by Michael Longley then ‘Mid Term Break’ with Bernard O’Donoghue and so it went on. Carol Ann Duffy with John Sampson’s accompliment, read four poems including ‘The Blackbird of Glanmore’.
Adding energy and vibrancy to the evening were The Chieftains at intervals playing ca’The March of the King of Laois’, ‘Reel’ and ‘Fanny Power/Round Robin’.
How lovely to hear some of the poems in that wonderful Irish lilt, but a treat too, to have so many distinguished poets reading such a great selection. I particularly liked Edna O’Brien, Charlotte Higgins and Paula Meehan.
The printed programme concluded with:
It seems such a short time ago July 1st 2012 to be precise that I was writing about Poetry Parnassus on this blog.
‘Seamus Heaney was a treat that will last me the rest of my lifetime. Of course he pandered to the audience by reading ‘Diggin’, where digging through his own family roots he comes to accept his own heritage and family traditions’.
Not only a wonderful poet but by all accounts a truly compassionate and remarkable human being.