While visiting a clinic in Ghana earlier today, Bono heard the news of the death of Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate and widely regarded as one of the greatest Irish poets of all time.
'Seamus was a great, great poet. I know people throw around this phrase a lot, but his poem From the Republic of Conscience, literally changed my life. As an activist he was the quietest storm that ever blew into town. In fact, in so many things he was a gentle genius, whose words challenged us with the grit and beauty of life as much as they gave us solace. He wrote with a brevity that strangely spilled to the brim.
'We all envied how he made that most complicated of things, the balancing of work and family, appear so simple. In Marie he found his other whole. And it is a joy to be around his kids... Michael, Chris and Catherine Ann. They have all of his humility in their sharpness.
'I take his poems with me wherever I go. I was in Liberia just a few days ago and I gave his collection 'Electric Light' to President Ellen Johnson Sirleaf, whose entire country is in darkness. She knew exactly who he was and immediately started reading the poems while standing beside me. A few days after that I gave another collection 'Seeing Things' to President John Mahama of Ghana, whose vision of his country is everything...
'I am bewildered to think Seamus is no longer with us. Because his words will be around forever, it seemed so would he.'
Bono talking about Heaney