Seamus Heaney’s first poetry collection, Death of a Naturalist, appeared forty years ago. Since then he has published poetry, criticism, and translations that have established him as one of the leading poets of his generation. In 1995 he was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature.

What Passed at Colonus

in memory of Czeslaw Milosz His instruction calmed us, his company and voice Were like high tidings in the summer trees, Except this time he turned away and left us. He walked to where the stream goes underground And a steep bank paved with flagstones …

Helmet

Bobby Breen’s. His Boston fireman’s gift With BREEN in scarlet lacquer on its spread Fantailing brim, Tinctures of sweat and hair oil In the withered sponge and shock-absorbing webs Beneath the crown— Or better say the crest, for crest it …

On Thomas Flanagan (1923–2002)

On March 16 this year Thomas Flanagan reviewed a history of St. Patrick’s Day for The Irish Times and was identified by the paper’s literary editor as “a novelist and scholar…currently working on a book about Irish-American writers.” When he died in Berkeley from a heart attack five days later, …

A New ‘Beowulf’

Following are selections from Seamus Heaney’s new translation of Beowulf, with excerpts from Mr. Heaney’s introduction. The poem called Beowulf was composed some time between the middle of the seventh and the end of the tenth century of the first millennium, in the language that is today called Anglo-Saxon or …

In Memoriam: Robert Fitzgerald

The socket of each axhead like the squared Doorway to a megalithic tomb With its slabbed passage that keeps opening forward To face another corbeled stone-faced door That opens on a third. There is no last door, Just a threshold stone, stone jambs, stone crossbeam …

Making It New

Last year the British division of Penguin Books issued James Fenton’s poems as one of their “King Penguins,” a part of their list usually reserved for current successful fiction. That they published the book under this heading and not as part of their poetry list—devoted, on the whole, to the …

The Toome Road

One morning early I met armoured cars In convoy, warbling along on powerful tyres, All camouflaged with broken alder branches, And headphoned soldiers standing up in turrets. How long were they approaching down my roads As if they owned them? The whole country was sleeping.

On Robert Lowell

From a memorial address given at St. Luke’s Church, Redcliffe Square, London, October 5, 1977. I can recall being shy of meeting him, and perhaps others were too, because of that nimbus of authority that ringed his writings and his actions. In his fifties here in England, he already had …

The Poet Crowned

I rode south through the petty kingdoms (Belfast to Dublin on The Enterprise) Resplendent in my emperor’s new bays. Gods make their own importance! Metronomes And metres, tattoos on the sacral drums Of memory, etymologies Superb as nations risen off their knees: Our …