Monday, 16 September 2019 Contact us

Seamus Heaney: a tribute

A fondly remembered visit to Oxford

SEAMUS HEANEY (1939-2013)

Seamus HeaneyIt is only 6 months since the greatest Irish poet since Yeats and a towering figure in international literature stepped on to Oxford’s Sheldonian stage to deliver the Chancellor’s lecture. There followed just more than an hour of soft and moving readings and a conversation with his friend, the writer Kevin Crossley-Holland, where we, the audience, were invited to eavesdrop and share his thoughts and experiences, a rare privilege. Afterwards, he looked up at the never-ending queue awaiting his signature on their volume of poetry and said: ‘It’ll take an hour but I must sign them all, they may have come some distance.’

Those of us who spent time with him during that day were with a man you felt you already knew, so warmly familiar yet also delightfully courteous and charming was his demeanour. To think his last line is written is a cruel blow to all of us who love literature but that he came our way once will always be a treasured memory.

And so by night and day to be transported
Through galleried earth. with them, the only relict
Of all that I belonged to, hurtled forward,
Reflecting in a window-mirror backed
By blasting weeping rock-walls

                                Flicker-lit.
from District and Circle


Graham Benson
Deputy Chairman
The Oxford Literary Festival

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford BBC World Service International radio partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Chêne Bleu Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Head of Zeus The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture British Academy BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner Earthwatch Europe Ian and Carol Sellars Emily Rose and James Marrow Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Jesus College St Hilda’s College 10th St Hilda's day at the festival St John’s College St John's College The Queen’s College The Queen's College Exeter College Exeter College Hertford College Keble College Keble College Oxford Brookes University The Feathers Hotel Said Business School University of Oxford Mathematical Institute Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design The Royal Society of Literature Royal Literary Fund Princeton University Press Felicity Bryan Associates University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Conference Oxford Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Press Floris of London Critchleys City Audio Visual Eynsham Hall Macdonald Bear Hotel Sloane Club Ashmolean Museum British Humanist Association The Story Museum Oxford City Council The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Liaison Financial Services History of War All About History Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Wadham College Wadham College

FT Weekend Oxford Literary Festival partners & sponsors

FT Weekend Title partner University of Oxford BBC World Service International radio partner Bodleian Libraries Festival cultural partner Oxford Martin School Festival ideas partner Chêne Bleu Worcester College Worcester College: Festival college partner Italian Embassy Supporter of Italian programme Irish Embassy, London Supporters of the Irish programme MIT Press MIT Press. Sponsors of the programme of American literature and culture The Dorchester Hotels Collection Festival London hotel partner Blackwell’s Festival on-site and online bookseller Head of Zeus The Macdonald Randolph Hotel The festival hotel HM Government of Gibraltar Festival green room sponsor Gibunco Group Sponsor of Gibraltar Lecture British Academy BBC Four Television Broadcast media partner Earthwatch Europe Ian and Carol Sellars Emily Rose and James Marrow Jill Dunsmore Lady Hatch Patron donor for the programme of Irish literature and culture George Warren New College Lincoln College Lincoln College St Cross College St Cross College Jesus College St Hilda’s College 10th St Hilda's day at the festival St John’s College St John's College The Queen’s College The Queen's College Exeter College Exeter College Hertford College Keble College Keble College Oxford Brookes University The Feathers Hotel Said Business School University of Oxford Mathematical Institute Oxford Centre for Hebrew and Jewish Studies Oxford Centre for Islamic Studies The Oxford Times Regional media partner BBC Radio Oxford Local radio partner Bear Ram Elk Festival Digital Strategy & Web Design The Royal Society of Literature Royal Literary Fund Princeton University Press Felicity Bryan Associates University of Oxford Alumni Office Alumni Office Conference Oxford Oxford University Images Oxford University Images The Sheldonian Theatre Oxford University Press Floris of London Critchleys City Audio Visual Eynsham Hall Macdonald Bear Hotel Sloane Club Ashmolean Museum British Humanist Association The Story Museum Oxford City Council The Litmus Partnership K T Bruce Photography K T Bruce Photography OX magazine Liaison Financial Services History of War All About History Steer Oxford Botanic Garden Wadham College Wadham College