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Henry Chu
Seamus Heaney dies at 74; Irish poet won Nobel Prize for literature

Seamus Heaney was already one of Ireland's best-known poets when the sectarian violence of "The Troubles" swept through Northern Ireland in the 1970s and '80s. An Irish Republican activist spotted him on a train and challenged Heaney to craft some words in support of the IRA fighters then waging a hunger strike in a British prison. Heaney declined. Instead he wrote dark verses about death drifting across the Irish landscape and a 1979 poem called "The Singer's House" that defended the right of art to exist for its own sake, even in times of war. "When I came here first you were always singing," Heaney wrote, in response to a friend's...