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Heaney and Lisbon – What Gives?

June 22, 2009 By: Patrick Stack Category: poet

My jaw dropped last night when I saw on the news that the Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney is weighing in on the Yes side in the upcoming Lisbon Referendum rerun.
I find the temerity of the man galling for the following reasons:

  1. All during the “troubles” up North, Mr. Heaney was noticeably silent, when it behooved him, as a poet, to speak out against atrocity, and injustice, it being a poet’s obligation to do. What more important function does the poet serve in society if not to ask the “hard” questions, even if – especially if – that means putting him/herself at risk?
    Yet, now Mr Heaney sees fit to lend his considerable clout, at no personal risk to himself, to one side in what will no doubt be a very divisive rerun of the Lisbon referendum.
  2. As a citizen of this country, I find it highly objectionable that a poet of his stature should row in behind the Status Quo thereby lending it credibility, given the absolute shambles the said Status Quo has made of our country and economy in the past decade, and the contempt with which it regards the wishes of the people.
  3. Rerunning the Lisbon Referendum when a sizeable majority of the electorate voted against the Lisbon Treaty only a year ago is an insult to the electorate and makes an absolute mockery of our democracy. By siding with the Status Quo on this issue Mr. Heaney is in effect adding to the insult.

For all of the above reasons I would therefore ask Mr Heaney to kindly refrain from taking sides on this issue in an official capacity. He is, of course, entitled to give his views as a private citizen, as we all are. But to use the prestige of his poetic standing in an official capacity to bolster the campaign of one side or the other is not acceptable.

4 Comments to “Heaney and Lisbon – What Gives?”


  1. Anna O'Leary says:

    Ah, the Poet Laureate is a paid stooge of the government……in England they write poem s about the Queen……it is how they earn their crust. Same here obviously.Sadly Seamus Heaney has been bought. Next week he might write an ode to Mr. Cowen’s jowels.

    As for the Lisbon Treaty….we’ll just vote it down again.

    Down with the Lisbon Treaty.

    Irish people are not going to be dragged into wars about oil.

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  2. Just as I suspected, Anna!
    Though I wasn’t aware that the post of Poet Laureate existed for our little republic.
    The very idea of an ode to Cowan’s slobbering dewlaps is enough to make one’s breakfast sit uncomfortably in the stomach.
    And I’ll certainly be voting against the Lisbon Treaty, again.

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  3. No I’m not going to blog about Michael Jackson as he has no connection that I know of with Listowel Writers’ Week or with creative writing.
    He did write some excellent songs but as he had no involvement with Freddie White’s Song Writing workshop in Listowel Writers’ Week I see little point in blogging about him on this blog. I leave that to Freddie White if indeed he had a link with Michael Jackson.

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  4. Actually I’m pretty sure Michael Jackson was at Freddie White’s songwriting workshop. I came out of J B Keane’s and saw him on the road: he had music in his hand and was heavily disguised but it saw through him.

    Michael thank you. I’d forgotten about this, and it wasn’t until you reminded me that Listowel was Michael’s last private songwriting adventure, that the memory stirred.

    Patrick, I’m sorry, there was so much else going on in Listowel during Writers’ Week that I simply forgot to mention I’d seen Michael Jackson. You might even have seen him yourself without realising it. He was padded up, brown stain under his armpit, and looked for all the world like George Rowley leaving the gig.

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