Some words of Dave Merritt and Seamus Heaney


In the aftermath of the London Bridge attack, when Saskia Jones and Jack Merritt, his son, were stabbed to death, the Merritt family asked that this tragedy would not be used politically.  Over the years in Northern Ireland one has heard similar pleas.  Yesterday, under a headline “Jack would be livid his death has been used to further an agenda of hate”, Jack’s father added these wise words:


Jack believed in the inherent goodness of humanity, and felt a deep social responsibility to protect that.  Through us all Jack marches on.


Borrow his intelligence, share his drive, feel his passion, burn with his anger, and extinguish hatred with his kindness.  Never give up his fight.


The attack happened last Friday.  Quite incidentally, on Saturday night on BBC 2 a documentary was shown on Seamus Heaney.  It, gently and slowly, unfolded the life and writing of the poet, with numerous extracts from interviews with members of his family and literary colleagues.   As with all writers from the troubled areas of Ireland, saying something without it being politicised is so difficult, and this was demonstrated in this documentary.  The Faber and Faber collections of Seamus Heaney’s poetry appeared often throughout the programme, with their distinctive typeface and style, that little ff on the spine and lower right hand corner of the cover giving confidence and assurance to the reader, though that is hardly necessary, as one delves into the beautiful and familiar words of many of these restrained, and yet frequently heart-rending, poems. 


The use of words.  Such a gift, but that gift’s misuse is so subtle a temptation.  


John Mann