Heaney was a commanding figure in Irish literature. Hughes, a lifelong friend, helped persuade him to make a go of writing for a living; they later co-edited two anthologies. Heaney was in awe at meeting Lowell, one of his influences, and joyful that they got on (they became good friends). He built strong links with writers in Poland (where he saw sympathetic parallels with Ireland); Miłosz (whom he called ‘the giant at my shoulder’), Szymborska and Herbert were all friends, as were Creeley, Walcott and Brodsky. He read with MacDiarmid, took Murray to visit megaliths, and got hungover with Bragg.