Irish Nobel prize-winning poet and playwright Seamus Heaney died Friday at a hospital in Dublin after a brief illness, relatives said. He was 74.
Heaney, who was born on April 3, 1939, into a Catholic family in Northern Ireland, had "recently suffered from ill health," the BBC reported.
Regarded as Ireland's greatest poet since William Butler Yeats (1865-1939), Heaney published his first poetry collection, "Death of a Naturalist," in 1966. He also wrote several plays including "The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' 'Philoctetes'" and "The Burial at Thebes," published in 1990 and 2004, respectively.
Pigeonholed on the basis of his early works as an Irish nationalist opposed to British control of Northern Ireland, Heaney moved in 1972 to the Republic of Ireland and began to expand his poetry beyond a focus on rural life and tackle more universal themes.
His "North" collection, published in 1975 and considered his masterpiece, criticizes the defeatism of Irish Catholics in Northern Ireland.
On Oct. 5, 1995, the Swedish Academy awarded Heaney the Nobel Prize in literature in recognition of his "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past."
In 2011, Heaney donated his literary documents to the National Library of Ireland, a collection that included manuscripts, a vast number of loose-leaf pages, typewritten texts, rough drafts and handwritten notes. EFE