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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Seamus Heaney Recalls his Stroke

Irish poet Seamus Heaney has spoken about how he cried, like a child, for his father after he suffered a stroke three years ago.

The Nobel prizewinner and his wife, Marie, had been in Donegal celebrating the 75th birthday of Anne Friel, the wife of playwright Brian Friel.

Heaney became ill during the night - he felt ill and discovered that his leg was twisted.

He had to be carried downstairs by friends to a waiting ambulance.

"I cried and I wanted my daddy, funnily enough," he admitted.

But even having a stroke had a certain beauty, he told The Observer newspaper.

The trip on the bumpy back road in the ambulance to Letterkenny Hospital with his wife beside him will stay with him always.

"Marie was in the back with me. I just wrote about it three weeks ago. To me, that was one of the actual beauties of the stroke, that renewal of love in the ambulance. One of the strongest, sweetest memories I have.

"We went through Glendorn on a very beautiful, long, bumpy ride."

Heaney, who celebrated his 70th birthday in April, looked back on the "stroke episode" of August 2006 and said that it had prompted him to take a year off. It was, he said, his "rest cure".

As he lay in hospital, who should walk in to visit him but former US President Bill Clinton.

"He strode into the ward like a kind of god. My fellow sufferers, four or five men much more stricken than I was, were amazed.

"But he shook their hands and introduced himself. It was marvellous really. He went round all the wards and gave the whole hospital a terrific boost."

link: BBC NEWS | UK | Northern Ireland | Poet 'cried for father' after stroke


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