Seamus was a true friend, say Bill and Hillary Clinton
FORMER US president Bill Clinton and his wife Hillary have led tributes to renowned poet Seamus Heaney.
They said that Heaney was "our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives" and a "powerful voice for peace".
Mr Clinton met the Nobel laureate during the Northern Ireland Peace Process in 1995, and the pair built a lasting relationship.
Yesterday, the Clintons said that they counted Heaney, who died yesterday at the age of 74, as their friend.
"Both his stunning work and his life were a gift to the world," they said.
"His mind, heart and his uniquely Irish gift for language made him our finest poet of the rhythms of ordinary lives and a powerful voice for peace.
"And he was a good and true friend," they added. "More than a brilliant artist, Seamus was, from the first day we met him, a joy to be with, and a warm and caring friend – in short, a true son of Northern Ireland. His wonderful work, like that of his fellow Irish Nobel Prize winners, Shaw, Yeats and Beckett, will be a lasting gift for all the world," they added. In a 2011 message to Heaney, Mr Clinton revealed how the family had named their dog Seamus in tribute to him.
He said that, while he didn't know what his friend would make of the decision, in American culture a man's dog was always his best friend.
Heaney was the guest of honour at the White House during St Patrick's Day celebrations in 2000. In 2006, when Heaney had a stroke, Mr Clinton visited him while he was in hospital.