Seamus Heaney quotes

  • Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Hope

  • I can't think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people's understanding of what's going on in the world.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Thinking #People #Understanding

  • Anyone with gumption and a sharp mind will take the measure of two things: what's said and what's done.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Epic Poems #Two #Mind

  • If you have the words, there's always a chance that you'll find the way.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Way #Chance

  • Poetry is always slightly mysterious, and you wonder what is your relationship to it.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Mysterious #Wonder #Poetry Is

  • The end of art is peace.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Art #Ends #Art Is

  • All I know is a door into the dark
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Dark #Doors

  • The aim of poetry and the poet is finally to be of service, to ply the effort of the individual into the larger work of the community as a whole.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Effort #Community #Plies

  • I've always associated the moment of writing with a moment of lift, of joy, of unexpected reward.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing #Joy #Rewards

  • Two buckets were easier carried than one. / I grew up in between.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Two #Buckets #Grew

  • Walk on air against your better judgement.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Wisdom #Air #Judgement

  • I have begun to think of life as a series of ripples widening out from an original center.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Thinking #Ripple

  • The main thing is to write for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust that imagines its haven like your hands at night dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast. You are fasted now, light-headed, dangerous. Take off from here.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Dream #Writing #Night

  • The ability to start out upon your own impulse is fundamental to the gift of keeping going upon your own terms. . . . Getting started, keeping going, getting started again in art and in life, it seems to me this is the essential rhythm.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Inspirational #Art #Fundamentals

  • Write whatever you like!
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing

  • I always believed that whatever had to be written would somehow get itself written.
    -- Seamus Heaney

  • I rhyme… to see myself, to set the darkness echoing.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Poetry #Darkness #Rhyme

  • Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Moving #Lasts #Succeed

  • Strange, it is a huge nothing that we fear.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Strange

  • The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful … to get a surge of inner life or inner supply or unexpected sense of empowerment, to be afloat, to be out of yourself.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing #Self #Empowerment

  • I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing #Self #Giving

  • As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Reality #Citizens #Notes

  • Believe that a further shore...is reachable from here.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Believe #Shore

  • The thing about writing is that if you have the impulse, you will find the time.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing #Impulse

  • The gift of writing is to be self-forgetful
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Writing #Self #Forgetful

  • I credit poetry for making this space-walk possible.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Space #Credit #Walks

  • The way we are living, timorous or bold, will have been our life.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Way

  • Without needing to be theoretically instructed, consciousness quickly realizes that it is the site of variously contending discourses.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Realizing #Consciousness #Site

  • Sink every impulse like a bolt. Secure The bastion of sensation. Do not waver Into language. Do not waver in it.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Language #Impulse

  • There is risk and truth to yourselves and the world before you.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Risk #World

  • History says, Don’t hope On this side of the grave, But then, once in a lifetime The longed-for tidal wave Of justice can rise up, And hope and history rhyme
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Justice #Once In A Lifetime #Sides

  • The fact of the matter is that the most unexpected and miraculous thing in my life was the arrival in it of poetry itself - as a vocation and an elevation almost.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Matter #Facts #Unexpected

  • The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage. The wet centre is bottomless.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Might #Wetness #Centre

  • Poetry is language in orbit.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Art #Poetry #Orbit

  • Im a firm believer in learning by heart.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Heart #Believer #Firm

  • Not to Learn Irish is to miss the opportunity of understanding what life in this country has meant and could mean in a better future. It is to cut oneself off from ways of being at home. If we regard self-understanding, mutual understanding, imaginative enhancement, cultural diversity and a tolerant political atmosphereas a desirable attainments, we should remember that a knowledge of the Irish language is an essential element in their realisation.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Country #Mean #Home

  • Memory has always been fundamental for me. In fact, remembering what I had forgotten is the way most of the poems get started.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Memories #Way #Facts

  • Loyalism, or Unionism, or Protestantism, or whatever you want to call it, in Northern Ireland - it operates not as a class system, but a caste system.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Class #Want #Caste System

  • If poetry and the arts do anything, they can fortify your inner life, your inwardness.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Art

  • God is a foreman with certain definite views Who orders life in shifts of work and leisure.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #God #Views #Order

  • Poetry cannot afford to lose its fundamentally self-delighting inventiveness, its joy in being a process of language as well as a representation of things in the world.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Self #Joy #World

  • I might enjoy being an albatross, being able to glide for days and daydream for hundreds of miles along the thermals. And then being able to hang like an affliction round some people's necks.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #People #Affliction #Might

  • Whether it be a matter of personal relations within a marriage or political initiatives within a peace process, there is no sure-fire do-it-yourself kit.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Fire #Political #Matter

  • The Ireland I now inhabit is one that these Irish contemporaries have helped to imagine.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Imagine #Ireland

  • Then as the years went on and my listening became more deliberate, I would climb up on an arm of our big sofa to get my ear closer to the wireless speaker.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Hands #Years #Listening

  • Hope is not optimism, which expects things to turn out well, but something rooted in the conviction that there is good worth working for.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Optimism #Conviction #Wells

  • My body was braille for the creeping influences.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Body #Influence #Braille

  • At home in Ireland, there's a habit of avoidance, an ironical attitude towards the authority figure.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Attitude #Home #Figure Skating

  • The completely solitary self: that's where poetry comes from, and it gets isolated by crisis, and those crises are often very intimate also.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Self #Intimate #Crisis

  • I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Stones #Stepping Stones #Oneself

  • Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests; snug as a gun. ~from the poem "Digging
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Gun #Thumbs #Digging

  • It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #History #Difficult

  • Smile As you find a rhythm Working you, slow mile by mile, Into your proper haunt.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Smile #Miles #Rhythm

  • 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.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Ignorance #People #Different

  • Desmond O'Grady is one of the senior figures in Irish Literary life, exemplary in the way he has committed himself over the decades to the vocation of poetry and has lived selflessly for the art
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Senior #Art #Way

  • A public expectation, it has to be said, not of poetry as such but of political positions variously approvable by mutually disapproving groups.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Expectations #Political #Groups

  • No bit of the natural world is more valuable or more vulnerable than the tree bit. Nothing is more like ourselves, standing upright, caught between heaven and earth, frail at the extremities, yet strong at the central trunk, and nothing is closer to us at the beginning and at the end, providing the timber boards that frame both the cradle and the coffin.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Strong #Tree #Heaven

  • It is always better to avenge dear ones than to indulge in mourning. For every one of us, living in this world means waiting for our end. Let whoever can win glory before death. When a warrior is gone, that will be his best and only bulwark.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Mean #Warrior #Winning

  • I shall gain glory or die.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Gains #Glory

  • So hope for a great sea-change On the far side of revenge. Believe that further shore Is reachable from here. Believe in miracles And cures and healing wells.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Forgiveness #Revenge #Believe

  • If self is a location, so is love: Bearings taken, markings, cardinal points, Options, obstinacies, dug heels, and distance, Here and there and now and then, a stance.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Distance #Taken #Self

  • I suppose I'm saying that defiance is actually part of the lyric job
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Jobs #Defiance

  • It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir; that Tacitus was right and that peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Desolation #Operations #Left Behind

  • The dotted line my father's ashplant made On Sandymount Strand Is something else the tide won't wash away.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Father #Lines #Tides

  • In off the moors, down through the mist beams, god-cursed Grendel came greedily loping.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Beam #Moors #Mist

  • Once off the bush The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour. I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot. Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not. -Blackberry picking
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Sweet #Years #Lovely

  • Now it’s high watermark and floodtide in the heart and time to go. The sea-nymphs in the spray will be the chorus now. What’s left to say? Suspect too much sweet-talk but never close your mind. It was a fortunate wind that blew me here. I leave half-ready to believe that a crippled trust might walk and the half-true rhyme is love.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Sweet #Believe #Heart

  • Hope for a great sea-change timid to rebuke and too petty to forgive
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Forgiveness #Sea #Forgiving

  • Yet there are times when a deeper need enters, when we want the poem to be not only pleasurably right but compellingly wise, not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a re-tuning of the world itself.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Wise #Variation #World

  • To begin with, I wanted that truth to life to possess a concrete reliability, and rejoiced most when the poem seemed most direct, an upfront representation of the world it stood in for or stood up for or stood its ground against.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #World #Reliability #Stood Up

  • In fact, in lyric poetry, truthfulness becomes recognizable as a ring of truth within the medium itself.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Facts #Truthfulness #Mediums

  • The external reality and inner dynamic of happenings in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1974 were symptomatic of change, violent change admittedly, but change nevertheless, and for the minority living there, change had been long overdue.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Reality #Long #Minorities

  • When I first encountered the name of the city of Stockholm, I little thought that I would ever visit it, never mind end up being welcomed to it as a guest of the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Foundation.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Cities #Names #Mind

  • Wherever that man went, he went gratefully.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Men

  • But that citizen's perception was also at one with the truth in recognizing that the very brutality of the means by which the IRA were pursuing change was destructive of the trust upon which new possibilities would have to be based.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Mean #Perception #Brutality

  • I've nothing against the Queen personally: I had lunch at the Palace once upon a time.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Queens #Lunch #Once Upon A Time

  • My point is there's a hidden Scotland in anyone who speaks the Northern Ireland speech. It's a terrific complicating factor, not just in Northern Ireland, but Ireland generally.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #Scotland #Speech #Speak

  • Behaviour that's admired is the path to power among people everywhere.
    -- Seamus Heaney

    #People #Path #Behaviour