Home > Poetry > Seamus Heaney turns 70

Seamus Heaney turns 70

April 13, 2009

Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner is 70 today. To celebrate here is his poem “Strange Fruit,” one of a series of poems about bog-bodies.

Here is the girl’s head like an exhumed gourd.
Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth.

They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair
And made an exhibition of its coil,
Let the air at her leathery beauty.
Pash of tallow, perishable treasure:
Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod,
Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings.
Diodorus Siculus confessed
His gradual ease with the likes of this:
Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible
Beheaded girl, outstaring axe
And beatification, outstaring
What had begun to feel like reverence.

Some more of Heaney’s poetry is available online here.

  1. April 13, 2009 at 4:00 pm

    I just listened to this interview of Heaney by Mark Lawson for BBC Radio 4.

  2. April 13, 2009 at 5:31 pm

    I’m unfamiliar with Heaney’s poems, and in general I don’t read much poetry, but this is a good poem; thanks for presenting it. The word “pash” is unfamiliar to me — never read it before. Have to do some etymological research!

  3. DLC
    April 16, 2009 at 9:03 pm

    Being unfamiliar with Heaney’s work I wondered where the blog name came from. I actually thought of the old song of the same title, as sung by Billie Holiday.
    ( video at:

    Strangely enough, both have to do with killings.

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