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From letters collected in The Letters of Seamus Heaney, which will be published in September by Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

Dear Loving Man,

All this is spilling out like a bottle bubbling and disgorging, without much forethought.

I’ve actually composed it on a laptop computer, for which I have no printer.

I’m sorry not to have email.

Will fax this.

I keep thinking of the mail piling up at home and the faxes gulping and slithering into one’s life and the requests for recommendations and introductions lurking . . . A feeling that sunlight and silence and free time on a Tuesday morning on a Greek island is an affront to the workers of the world.

I spend days in “correspondence,” jumping to it as the cutter of the fax machine rolls out another request like a head from the guillotine.

Then this morning, after a week when I was in England, reading at Stephen Spender’s centenary on Thursday and concelebrating Montague’s eightieth on Tuesday, I came back to find a fax of a download from Truthdig (from the electronically hyper O’Driscoll).

Our own house has turned into a kind of office, a site of fax and phone, of administration and importunity.

Honest to Jesus, I seem to do little else these days than respond to the ruthless cut of the papercutter in the fax machine.

I am writing this in haste.

I feel the speed of the lines—no, not the speed—the inevitability of the fit between cadence and intelligence is not always there. I babble. But throw the hat in the air, too—in haste.

Many thanks for your letter. This is not so much an answer as a finger-fly-up-from-the-font sprinkle of the fictive water.

I’ll send you my complete note at the end of the month, once I get through the mail-ramparts and fax-middens.

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March 1987

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