Seamus Heaney and Education: Student and Teacher


While a visiting professor at Harvard University, Seamus Heaney was commissioned by Phi Beta Kappa Society to write a poem for their 1984 Literary Exercises, a yearly commencement event held in celebration of learning. In ‘Alphabets’, the resulting poem, Heaney decided to write about ‘making the first letters at primary school’. The poem indeed starts with a young Seamus learning shapes and symbols, before moving on to unfamiliar surroundings at St Columb’s College, Derry. In its third and final section, Heaney has come full circle, lecturing on academia’s most prestigious stages.



Bríd McGuinness