Seamus Heaney (1939–2013) is unique among contemporary poets for having devoted critical as well as popular readerships. A prolific poet and essayist, Heaney is particularly beloved for the lyrical beauty of his verse, which often manages to sound like ordinary speech despite its finely wrought nature. Heaney was born in Northern Ireland and was raised as a Catholic in the predominantly Protestant County Derry. Although he eventually moved to Dublin, and then to the United States, Heaney always remained deeply influenced by the culture and landscapes of his native Ireland. His work often speaks to the modern age, and particularly to political violence in Northern Ireland known as the “Troubles.” However, Heaney maintained a special interest in Ireland’s past. Perhaps most notable is his fascination with Irish bogs as a figurative “memory bank”—and idea that informed his 1975 collection, North. Heaney was also a notable translator. He translated from Irish as well as Greek and Latin, but he remains best known for his verse translation of the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf (1999), which received the Whitbread Award. The recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize for Literature, Heaney also served for many years on the faculty at Harvard University.