Irish Poet, Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney, has died

Discussion in 'Up to the Minute' started by Gardenlady, Aug 30, 2013.

  1. Gardenlady

    Gardenlady Active Member

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    RIP :rose:


    Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

    Under my window, a clean rasping sound
    When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
    My father, digging. I look down

    Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
    Bends low, comes up twenty years away
    Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
    Where he was digging.

    The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
    Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
    He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
    To scatter new potatoes that we picked,
    Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

    By God, the old man could handle a spade.
    Just like his old man.

    My grandfather cut more turf in a day
    Than any other man on Toner's bog.
    Once I carried him milk in a bottle
    Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
    To drink it, then fell to right away
    Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
    Over his shoulder, going down and down
    For the good turf. Digging.

    The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
    Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
    Through living roots awaken in my head.
    But I've no spade to follow men like them.

    Between my finger and my thumb
    The squat pen rests.
    I'll dig with it.
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  3. tezi

    tezi Member of Websleuths since 2000.

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    I am so sad to hear this.

  4. M.James

    M.James New Member

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    This makes me so sad. He was my favorite.

    One of my favorite pieces is Punishment:

    If you've never heard his voice, listen to him read Bogland here:

    My day is ruined. Heaney was full of heart.
  5. LadyL

    LadyL Well-Known Member

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    one of my faves

    rest peacefully Seamus
  6. 21merc7

    21merc7 New Member

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    Feels like I have lost a dear friend.
  7. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    Seamus - rhymes with famous, and Heaney had been called Seamus Famous from early in his storied career - Heaney: "the end of art is peace," he wrote, in a poem called 'The Harvest Bow,' words he himself took from Yeats, and I heard him read it, and many others, long ago, sat with him with drinks at the "do" after the reading. Requiescat in pace then, Seamus Famous. As Auden wrote of Yeats: "Let the Irish vessel lie / Emptied of its poetry."

    Tributes paid to ‘keeper of language’ Seamus Heaney. (Irish Times)
  8. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    The Strand at Lough Beg
    In Memory of Colum McCartney

    All round this little island, on the strand
    Far down below there, where the breakers strive
    Grow the tall rushes from the oozy sand.
    – Dante, Purgatorio, I, 100-3

    Leaving the white glow of filling stations
    And a few lonely streetlamps among fields
    You climbed the hills toward Newtownhamilton
    Past the Fews Forest, out beneath the stars –
    Along the road, a high, bare pilgrim's track
    Where Sweeney fled before the bloodied heads,
    Goat-beards and dogs' eyes in a demon pack
    Blazing out of the ground, snapping and squealing.
    What blazed ahead of you? A faked road block?
    The red lamp swung, the sudden brakes and stalling
    Engine, voices, heads hooded and the cold-nosed gun?
    Or in your driving mirror, tailing headlights
    That pulled out suddenly and flagged you down
    Where you weren't known and far from what you knew:
    The lowland clays and waters of Lough Beg,
    Church Island's spire, its soft treeline of yew.
    There you once heard guns fired behind the house
    Long before rising time, when duck shooters
    Haunted the marigolds and bulrushes,
    But still were scared to find spent cartridges,
    Acrid, brassy, genital, ejected,
    On your way across the strand to fetch the cows.
    For you and yours and yours and mine fought shy,
    Spoke an old language of conspirators
    And could not crack the whip or seize the day:
    Big-voiced scullions, herders, feelers round
    Haycocks and hindquarters, talkers in byres,
    Slow arbitrators of the burial ground.
    Across that strand of ours the cattle graze
    Up to their bellies in an early mist
    And now they turn their unbewildered gaze
    To where we work our way through squeaking sedge
    Drowning in dew. Like a dull blade with its edge
    Honed bright, Lough Beg half shines under the haze.
    I turn because the sweeping of your feet
    Has stopped behind me, to find you on your knees
    With blood and roadside muck in your hair and eyes,
    Then kneel in front of you in brimming grass
    And gather up cold handfuls of the dew
    To wash you, cousin. I dab you clean with moss
    Fine as the drizzle out of a low cloud.
    I lift you under the arms and lay you flat.
    With rushes that shoot green again, I plait
    Green scapulars to wear over your shroud.

    From "Station Island":

    .........‘'But they were getting crisis
    first-hand, Colum, they had happened in on
    live sectarian assassination.
    I was dumb, encountering what was destined.’
    And so I pleaded with my second cousin.
    ‘I kept seeing a grey stretch of Lough Beg
    and the strand empty at daybreak.
    I felt like the bottom of a dried-up lake.’
    ‘You saw that, and you wrote that — not the fact.
    You confused evasion and artistic tact.
    The Protestant who shot me through the head
    I accuse directly, but indirectly, you
    who now atone perhaps upon this bed
    for the way you whitewashed ugliness and drew
    the lovely blinds of the Purgatorio
    and saccharined my death with morning dew.’

    (italics mine)

    There have never been many poets fit to deal with the ghosts their poetry kicks alive. Here, Heaney did. His late cousin Colum's reply in the cutting from 'Station Island' constitutes perhaps the best sequence Seamus Heaney ever wrote. For Colum's ghost has caught him out.
  9. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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  10. Gardenlady

    Gardenlady Active Member

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    Another poem, Mid-Term Break, written about his little brother who died in an accident while he was away at school.

    I sat all morning in the college sick bay
    Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
    At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

    In the porch I met my father crying--
    He had always taken funerals in his stride--
    And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

    The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
    When I came in, and I was embarrassed
    By old men standing up to shake my hand

    And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
    Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
    Away at school, as my mother held my hand

    In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
    At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
    With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

    Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
    And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
    For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

    Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
    He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
    No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

    A four foot box, a foot for every year.
  11. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    That one's a favorite. I've also always loved his sonnet

    A Drink of Water

    She came every morning to draw water
    Like an old bat staggering up the field:
    The pump's whooping cough, the bucket's clatter
    And slow diminuendo as it filled,
    Announced her. I recall
    Her gray apron, the pocked white enamel
    Of the brimming bucket, and the treble
    Creak of her voice like the pump's handle.
    Nights when a full moon lifted past her gable
    It fell back through her window and would lie
    Into the water set out on the table.
    Where I have dipped to drink again, to be
    Faithful to the admonishment on her cup,
    Remember the Giver fading off the lip.

    Seamus Heaney chooses two poems to sum up his lifetime achievement. (Guardian)

    STEADFAST New Member

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    What??? He's the only writer I've ever met!
    One of my favorite of his poems is "Punishment." Come to think of it, its last 15 or so lines are highly appropriate for all of us at WS.


    I can feel the tug
    of the halter at the nape
    of her neck, the wind
    on her naked front.
    It blows her nipples
    to amber beads,
    it shakes the frail rigging
    of her ribs.
    I can see her drowned
    body in the bog,
    the weighing stone,
    the floating rods and boughs.
    Under which at first
    she was a barked sapling
    that is dug up
    oak-bone, brain-firkin:
    her shaved head
    like a stubble of black corn,
    her blindfold a soiled bandage,
    her noose a ring
    to store
    the memories of love.
    Little adultress,
    before they punished you
    you were flaxen-haired,
    undernourished, and your
    tar-black face was beautiful.
    My poor scapegoat,
    I almost love you
    but would have cast, I know,
    the stones of silence.
    I am the artful voyeur
    of your brain's exposed
    and darkened combs,
    your muscles' webbing
    and all your numbered bones:
    I who have stood dumb
    when your betraying sisters,
    cauled in tar,
    wept by the railings,
    who would connive
    in civilized outrage
    yet understand the exact
    and tribal, intimate revenge.

    Read the full text here:
    --brought to you by mental_floss!
  13. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    The Tollund Man

    Some day I will go to Aarhus
    To see his peat-brown head,
    The mild pods of his eye-lids,
    His pointed skin cap.

    In the flat country near by
    Where they dug him out,
    His last gruel of winter seeds
    Caked in his stomach,

    Naked except for
    The cap, noose and girdle,
    I will stand a long time.
    Bridegroom to the goddess,

    She tightened her torc on him
    And opened her fen,
    Those dark juices working
    Him to a saint's kept body,

    Trove of the turfcutters'
    Honeycombed workings.
    Now his stained face
    Reposes at Aarhus.

    I could risk blasphemy,
    Consecrate the cauldron bog
    Our holy ground and pray
    Him to make germinate

    The scattered, ambushed
    Flesh of labourers,
    Stockinged corpses
    Laid out in the farmyards,

    Tell-tale skin and teeth
    Flecking the sleepers
    Of four young brothers, trailed
    For miles along the lines.

    Something of his sad freedom
    As he rode the tumbril
    Should come to me, driving,
    Saying the names

    Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,

    Watching the pointing hands
    Of country people,
    Not knowing their tongue.

    Out here in Jutland
    In the old man-killing parishes
    I will feel lost,
    Unhappy and at home.

    Tollund Man (Wiki)
  14. CHERIE.T

    CHERIE.T Former Member

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    Thanks to all who posted some of his poetry.
    RIP, your words will be greatly missed.
  15. Ausgirl

    Ausgirl Enough Is Enough!

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    I'm in tears.

    This man inspired my work as a poet, and studying his use of sound is what I believe helped me toward success in publishing my work.

    For the man of words who taught me to love the sound of language, I can offer only a minute's silence.
  16. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    The last lines of "In Memory of W.B. Yeats" which I quoted from above, by W.H. Auden. The words apply to Seamus Heaney too, and to all of the blessed who seek to toil with exactness in poetry's abundant yet difficult fields.

    Follow, poet, follow right
    To the bottom of the night,
    With your unconstraining voice
    Still persuade us to rejoice;
    With the farming of a verse
    Make a vineyard of the curse,
    Sing of human unsuccess
    In a rapture of distress;
    In the deserts of the heart
    Let the healing fountain start,
    In the prison of his days
    Teach the free man how to praise. -
  17. wfgodot

    wfgodot Former Member

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    Seamus Heaney's beauty. (
    The rest of Paul Muldoon's funeral eulogy at the link above.

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