Seamus Heaney has died, and Fintan O'Toole places the poet in context.
... (Heaney) had something to convey – especially, it seemed, to his fellow citizens. It was what his whole life as a poet had articulated with such astounding eloquence. In a speech at the National Museum in March he put it directly: “We are not simply a credit rating or an economy but a history and a culture, a human population rather than a statistical phenomenon.”
Of course, YouTube has many clips of the poet. As I watched a handful of them this morning, rejoicing in the wonderfully musical sound of words spoken by an Irishman, vague old memories began resurfacing.
Much of what I know, I learned during the 1980s through reading, traveling, listening ... and watching series like the PBS documentary called The Story of English. The episode I watched over and over on videotape was "The Loaded Weapon," and sure enough, there was Seamus Heaney commenting on the enduring life of language as mythology. Those amazing Irish stays in pre-Celtic Tiger times now come back to me. It's an enveloping thing, indeed.
Perhaps I should have been watching the Dukes of Hazzard and reinforcing my Americanism.