Frederick Robert Higgins was an Irish poet and theatre director.
Higgins was born on the west coast of Ireland in Foxford, which is located in County Mayo. He grew up in Ballivor in County Meath, and then spent the largest part of his adult life in Dublin, in a house he had built beside the River Dodder in Rathfarnham. His health was poor, and though his friends were inclined to regard him as a hypochondriac, his prediction that he would die young was accurate.
Higgins was a student of William Butler Yeats and served on the board of the Abbey Theatre from 1935 until his death. His best-known book of poetry is The Gap of Brightness (1940). He is also well known for his poem, Father and Son. He wrote a moving elegy for his fellow poet Pádraic Ó Conaire. He was generally acknowledged as a fine poet, but was less successful in his Abbey Theatre work: Frank O'Connor said unkindly that Higgins could not direct a children's poetry recitation.
He was a popular and convivial man- even Frank O'Connor, who came to regard him with deep suspicion, admitted that he was a delightful person to meet. His circle of friends included many of the leading Irish literary figures of his time, including Yeats, Padraic O Conaire, George William Russell, Lennox Robinson, and for a time Frank O'Connor. O'Connor however came to regard Higgins as untrustworthy and a troublemaker, and describes him unflatteringly in his memoir My Father's Son. For Yeats, at least Higgins seems to have had genuine affection, once remarking that he never left Yeats' house without " feeling like a thousand dollars". He was capable of great kindness and generosity to younger writers like Patrick Kavanagh.
He died suddenly of a heart attack in January 1941.
I know a small lake that sails the palest shadows,
Trailing their frail keels along its waveless sand;
And when isles of grey turf are sunning in its shallows
The far hill is a blue ghost on that land.
Down there my wild heart is startled by the quiet:
The very stones are spying; each tree is a pry;
The light declares against me and exiled from brightness
I stray from those waters invaded by the sky.
But when the sedges fling their bridge of whispers
On waves no moon has hooked, then surely I find,
As that lake into its own dim presence,
A dark calm sinks into my mind.