Heaney was awarded the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature. Writer and literary critic Ola Larsmo said then that Heaney's poetry reveals "a profound experience ... that a gap exists between the totality of what can be said and the totality of all that can be witnessed, between the limits of languages and the margins of the actual world in which we live. For Heaney 'poetry' is a means of measuring this gap – if not bridging it."
In 2008, Heaney told All Thing Considered that "I have always thought of poems as stepping stones in one's own sense of oneself. Every now and again, you write a poem that gives you self-respect and steadies your going a little bit farther out in the stream. At the same time, you have to conjure the next stepping stone because the stream, we hope, keeps flowing."
Worth knowing. We thought words traveled the wires
In the shiny pouches of raindrops,
Each one seeded full with the light
Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves
So infinitesimally scaled
We could stream through the eye of a needle.
From the U.K., Channel 4's Jon Snow writes that "I was lucky enough to know Seamus Heaney; to interview him and even spend time with him and his wife, Maire. ... When you met him, he was an extension of the poetry that you had read. A wonderful man, white-tousle-haired head, full of light and life, who always greeted you as a long-lost friend."