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Seamus Heaney Dies: Famed Irish Poet, a Nobel Prize Winner, Was 74

Image: Seamus Heaney Dies: Famed Irish Poet, a Nobel Prize Winner, Was 74

By Michael Mullins   |   Friday, 30 Aug 2013 12:03 PM

Seamus Heaney, a Nobel Prize in Literature recipient, has died at 74. He was considered by many to be Ireland's foremost poet.

Heaney died on Friday in a hospital in Dublin, according to his family and publisher, Faber & Faber, The Associated Press said.

The cause death was not reported, however the AP noted that Heaney was still recovering from a stroke he had suffered in 2006 at the time of his death.

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Heaney had spent much of his literary life putting Ireland's natural beauty into words, while also tackling the thorny subject of national politics that for so many years has, and continues to some extent, divide his native Northern Ireland.

Among Heaney's most famous poetry collections was his 1996 book of poems, "The Spirit Level," and later his 2006 "District and Circle" poetry collection, for which he won the 2006 T. S. Eliot Prize – the most prestigious United Kingdom poetry award, as well as the Irish Times' Poetry Now Award, among other accolades.

In a January 2007 article, the BBC noted that Heaney's work constituted "two-thirds of the sales of living poets in Britain."

Heaney, a Catholic, relocated to the Republic of Ireland in 1972, leaving behind Northern Ireland's County of Derry – where Catholics outnumbered Protestants two to one but were gerrymandered from power.

The late poet was a critic of the sectarian violence that tore apart his homeland, particularly throughout the 1960s and 1970s.

Heaney reportedly viewed the tit-for-tat killing between the Provisional Irish Republican Army and the various Unionist organizations as pointless and destructive, the AP notes.

"There was a sense of an utterly wasteful, cancerous stalemate, and that the violence was unproductive," Heaney said in 2009. "It was villainous, but you were living with it. Only after it stopped did you realize what you had lived with. Day by day, week by week, we lived through this, and didn't fully take in what was going on."

Despite having been born in Northern Ireland, which remains part of the United Kingdom more than 90 years after the Republic of Ireland broke away, Heaney did not consider himself a subject of the crown, having once said:

"Be advised my passport's green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen."

Heaney is survived by his wife, Marie, and children Christopher, Michael, and Catherine.

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