Saturday, October 26, 2013

Seamus Heaney's last poem published

Guardian publishes In a Field ahead of its appearance in anthology marking centenary of outbreak of first world war

Seamus Heaney
Seamus Heaney's last poem was described by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, as 'heartbreakingly prescient'. Photograph: Eamonn Mccabe for the Guardian

What may have been Seamus Heaney's final poem, a "heartbreakingly prescient" reflection on the first world war, has been published for the first time by the Guardian.

Heaney was invited by the poet laureate, Carol Ann Duffy, to contribute to a memorial anthology marking the centenary of the outbreak of the first world war. She asked poets to respond to poetry, letters and diary entries from the time.

Heaney chose Edward Thomas's great poem, As The Team's Head Brass, which he wrote in 1916 shortly before he asked to be posted to the front – a decision that led to his death at Arras the following year.
In response Heaney wrote In a Field (see below), completed in June, two months before his own death and now published for the first time.

Duffy said: "Seamus's poem is typically beautiful, placed and weighted at the centre of the poetic landscape which he made so familiar to us all, and above all, heartbreakingly prescient."
Heaney, who won the Nobel prize for literature in 1995, died in August. He was a towering figure. The poet Don Paterson said his death "seems to have left a breach in the language itself."

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