Irish poet Seamus Heaney, a Nobel Prize winner who published more than a dozen major poetry collections and translations over the course of his lifetime, died on Friday. He was 74.
Though his voice and subject matter were both unmistakably Irish, Heaney was one of the most famed and beloved poets the world over. His fellow poet, Robert Lowell, dubbed him "the most important Irish poet since Yeats," and it would be shorter to list the major poetry awards he didn't win than to recite the ones he did.
But Heaney remained characteristically humble and generous; as his health declined in 2011, he personally packed up his collection of literary papers, which are estimated to be worth millions, and donated them to the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.
In 2009, the BBC Northern Ireland cut together this montage of Heaney reading "Digging," one of his earliest acclaimed poems, at a series of appearances throughout his lifetime. "Digging" was included in Heaney's first major collection, 1966's widely acclaimed Death of a Naturalist, which offers 34 poems about growing up on a farm in Northern Ireland. "His words give us the soil-reek of Ireland, the colorful violence of a childhood farm in Derry," said a critic in The Spectator at the time.
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