"A public expectation, it has to be said, not of poetry as such but of political positions variously approvable by mutually disapproving groups."
"As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note."
"But even so, none of the news of these world-spasms entered me as terror."
"But that citizen's perception was also at one with the truth in recognizing that the very brutality of the means by which the IRA were pursuing change was destructive of the trust upon which new possibilities would have to be based."
"But the thing uttered by the speaker I strain towards is still not quite the story of what is going on; it is more reflexive than that, because as a poet I am in fact straining towards a strain, seeking repose in the stability conferred by a musically satisfying order of sounds."
"Even if the hopes you started out with are dashed, hope has to be maintained."
"Even if the last move did not succeed, the inner command says move again."
"I began a few years ago to try to make space in my reckoning and imagining for the marvellous as well as for the murderous."
"I credit poetry for making this space-walk possible."
"I may have grown more attentive to the news and more alive to the world history and world-sorrow behind it."
"In fact, in lyric poetry, truthfulness becomes recognizable as a ring of truth within the medium itself."
"It has as much to do with the energy released by linguistic fission and fusion, with the buoyancy generated by cadence and tone and rhyme and stanza, as it has to do with the poem's concerns or the poet's truthfulness."
"It is difficult at times to repress the thought that history is about as instructive as an abattoir; that Tacitus was right and that peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power."
"It was like a moment of exposure to interstellar cold, a reminder of the scary element, both inner and outer, in which human beings must envisage and conduct their lives."
"Manifesting that order of poetry where we can at last grow up to that which we stored up as we grew."
"No place in the world prides itself more on its vigilance and realism, no place considers itself more qualified to censure any flourish of rhetoric or extravagance of aspiration."
"On the contrary, a trust in the staying power and travel-worthiness of such good should encourage us to credit the possibility of a world where respect for the validity of every tradition will issue in the creation and maintenance of a salubrious political space."
"The external reality and inner dynamic of happenings in Northern Ireland between 1968 and 1974 were symptomatic of change, violent change admittedly, but change nevertheless, and for the minority living there, change had been long overdue."
"The Ireland I now inhabit is one that these Irish contemporaries have helped to imagine."
"The next move is always the test."
"The wartime, in other words, was pre-reflective time for me. Pre-literate too. Pre-historical in its way."
"Then as the years went on and my listening became more deliberate, I would climb up on an arm of our big sofa to get my ear closer to the wireless speaker."
"There is risk and truth to yourselves and the world before you."
"This temperamental disposition towards an art that was earnest and devoted to things as they are was corroborated by the experience of having been born and brought up in Northern Ireland and of having lived with that place even though I have lived out of it for the past quarter of a century."
"To begin with, I wanted that truth to life to possess a concrete reliability, and rejoiced most when the poem seemed most direct, an upfront representation of the world it stood in for or stood up for or stood its ground against."
"We want the surprise to be transitive like the impatient thump which unexpectedly restores the picture to the television set, or the electric shock which sets the fibrillating heart back to its proper rhythm."
"When I first encountered the name of the city of Stockholm, I little thought that I would ever visit it, never mind end up being welcomed to it as a guest of the Swedish Academy and the Nobel Foundation."
"Whether it be a matter of personal relations within a marriage or political initiatives within a peace process, there is no sure-fire do-it-yourself kit."
"Without needing to be theoretically instructed, consciousness quickly realizes that it is the site of variously contending discourses."
"Yet there are times when a deeper need enters, when we want the poem to be not only pleasurably right but compellingly wise, not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a re-tuning of the world itself."