Seamus Heaney on Dictionaries

David-Antoine Williams in The Life of Words:

In the summer of 2012 Seamus Heaney wrote to me on some questions I had sent him about dictionaries and words and etymologies. Bits of what he had to say made it into a couple of talks I did around that time, but I recently rediscovered the original text, and thought it should see the light of daySo here’s a very lightly edited rendition of our exchange:

D-AW: An anecdote in ‘Feeling into Words’ describes having grammatical and lexical facts recited to you in the form of rhymes as a child. Do you have any early memories of consulting dictionaries?

SH: I cannot remember the words of my mother’s rhyme, but it was a chant that somehow incorporated the links to be found between Latin and English vocabularies. The first dictionary I remember was a red-backed old Chambers in the Mossbawn house. I must have been eleven or twelve when I used it – if I used it.  The physical book and the authority that was lodged in and around it are what stay with me most.

More here.