Lin-Manuel Miranda reads Seamus Heaney poem in honour of Biden’s love for the Irish poet

‘My colleagues always kid me about quoting Irish poets all the time. They think I do it because I’m Irish,’ Joe Biden had said in December, 2013

Namita Singh
Thursday 21 January 2021 09:06 GMT
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Lin-Manuel Miranda reads Seamus Heaney poem in honour of Biden’s love for the Irish poet

Actor Lin-Manuel Miranda on Wednesday recited “The Cure of Troy," a poem that Joe Biden has referenced many times in his speeches, at the inauguration to celebrate the new president’s love for Nobel-Prize winning Irish poet and playwright Seamus Heaney.

Describing the president’s admiration for the poet during the "Celebrating America" television event, Academy award-winning actor Tom Hanks said, “The president has frequently quoted one poem of his for its particular relevance, inspiring him to declare that this is our moment to make hope and history rhyme."

In the past few years, the president has turned to these verses while accepting his nomination at the Democratic National Convention in 2020, in his remarks at the Munich Security Conference of 2015, while addressing the media in the Republic of Cyprus in 2014, and while mourning the death of Nelson Mandela in 2013. 

In fact, in his four decades-long career from a Senator in Delaware to the man at the helm of affairs at the Democratic party, Mr Biden earned a reputation of peppering his speeches with Heaney and his contemporary, WB Yeats.

“My colleagues always kid me about quoting Irish poets all the time. They think I do it because I’m Irish,” he had said in December 2013. “I do it because they’re the best poets.” 

Heaney’s 1991 poem is often seen in reference to The Troubles — the three decades-long period of conflict in Northern Ireland. 

However, President Biden is not the only one influenced by the works of the two Irish poets. They have also inspired former presidents Barack Obama and Bill Clinton.

“It is said that Yeats is quoted during troubled times while Heaney is cited when outlooks are brighter,” said Irish writer Darach Ó Séaghdha in the Irish news publication TheJournal.ie as he examined the political relevance of the two poets. 

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