Sean Thomas writes:
When I asked this same question of Twitter my laptop screen filled with tumbleweed, until someone eventually suggested that Heaney’s memorable talent was, arguably, proven by this line:
“Between my finger and thumb, the squat pen rests, I’ll dig with it.”
Well, yes, that line just sings, doesn’t it? And you do, indeed, hear it quoted all the time – whenever people are discussing thumbs, squatting, and pens that metaphorically resemble spades. (…)
Why, then, did Heaney become more famous than the infinitely superior Larkin?
But the younger Heaney was also Irish, republican, Left-wing and hairy when all this was à la mode. And once the literary world decided Heaney was the Mandela of Irish Poetry, he became irreproachable.