Helen Vendler at The New Republic:
And so, volume by volume, decade by decade, Heaney translated feelings in resonant word-clusters. For “the Troubles” in Northern Ireland: “neighborly murders.” For early marriage: “the lovely and painful / Covenants of flesh… / The respite in our dewy dreaming faces.” For expressing his chosen but unnatural distance from his native North when he moved to the Republic: “I am neither internee nor informer; / an inner émigré.” After his mother’s death: “A soul ramifying and forever / Silent, beyond silence listened for.” For the destruction of the Twin Towers: “Anything can happen.” And in the course of a long career, around the clusters there clustered more clusters, until a constellation, and then in time a galaxy, shone from the assembled poems, making up what we call a poet’s style. Heaney’s own style went through many changes while remaining recognizable across time. Brought up a Catholic, he was no longer a believer as an adult, but he also remarked that one cannot forget the culture in which one was raised. He attended no church, but by his own wish was buried at a Catholic Mass: there is no other way to bury someone from the Catholic tradition in Ireland.