dedalus Posted August 30, 2013 Share Posted August 30, 2013 Seamus Heaney (1939 – 2013) All year the flax-dam festered in the heart Of the townland; green and heavy headed Flax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods. Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun. Bubbles gargled delicately, bluebottles Wove a strong gauze of sound around the smell. And you walked among us and said nothing, with your public stare, and your private thoughts of getting home to Belfast whee you were nothing but a stranger. We have no prairies To slice a big sun at evening-- Everywhere the eye concedes to Encrouching horizon, Is wooed into the cyclops' eye Of a tarn. Our unfenced country Is bog that keeps crusting Between the sights of the sun. They've taken the skeleton Of the Great Irish Elk Out of the peat, set it up An astounding crate full of air. Butter sunk under More than a hundred years Was recovered salty and white. The ground itself is kind, black butter Melting and opening underfoot, Missing its last definition By millions of years. They'll never dig coal here, You were true and tied to the North, the isolated hills and glens, where one day your Protestant neighbours might come and murder you in your beds. He would drink by himself And raise a weathered thumb Towards the high shelf, Calling another rum And blackcurrant, without Having to raise his voice, Or order a quick stout By a lifting of the eyes And a discreet dumb-show Of pulling off the top; At closing time would go In waders and peaked cap Into the showery dark, A dole-kept breadwinner But a natural for work. I loved his whole manner, Sure-footed but too sly, His deadpan sidling tact, His fisherman's quick eye And turned observant back. Incomprehensible To him, my other life. Sometimes on the high stool, Too busy with his knife At a tobacco plug And not meeting my eye, In the pause after a slug He mentioned poetry. We would be on our own And, always politic And shy of condescension, I would manage by some trick To switch the talk to eels Or lore of the horse and cart Or the Provisionals. But my tentative art His turned back watches too: He was blown to bits Out drinking in a curfew Others obeyed, three nights After they shot dead The thirteen men in Derry. PARAS THIRTEEN, the walls said, BOGSIDE NIL. That Wednesday Everyone held His breath and trembled. II It was a day of cold Raw silence, wind-blown Surplice and soutane: Rained-on, flower-laden Coffin after coffin Seemed to float from the door Of the packed cathedral Like blossoms on slow water. The common funeral Unrolled its swaddling band, Lapping, tightening Till we were braced and bound Like brothers in a ring. But he would not be held At home by his own crowd Whatever threats were phoned, Whatever black flags waved. I see him as he turned In that bombed offending place, Remorse fused with terror In his still knowable face, His cornered outfaced stare Blinding in the flash. He had gone miles away For he drank like a fish Nightly, naturally Swimming towards the lure Of warm lit-up places, The blurred mesh and murmur Drifting among glasses In the gregarious smoke. How culpable was he That last night when he broke Our tribe's complicity? 'Now, you're supposed to be An educated man, ' I hear him say. 'Puzzle me The right answer to that one.' And that was the way it was; I remember, and there were no second chances and we all had our ears cocked for the sound of the second shoe falling, or not falling on the floor. The lads would rush in with guns and either shoot or apologize to one-legged men. I To-night, a first movement, a pulse, As if the rain in bogland gathered head To slip and flood: a bog-burst, A gash breaking open the ferny bed. Your back is a firm line of eastern coast And arms and legs are thrown Beyond your gradual hills. I caress The heaving province where our past has grown. I am the tall kingdom over your shoulder That you would neither cajole nor ignore. Conquest is a lie. I grow older Conceding your half-independant shore Within whose borders now my legacy Culminates inexorably. II And I am still imperially Male, leaving you with pain, The rending process in the colony, The battering ram, the boom burst from within. The act sprouted an obsinate fifth column Whose stance is growing unilateral. His heart beneath your heart is a wardrum Mustering force. His parasitical And ignorant little fists already Beat at your borders and I know they're cocked At me across the water. No treaty I foresee will salve completely your tracked And stretchmarked body, the big pain That leaves you raw, like opened ground, again. The same old thing, the same old thing, how many times do we have to tell you until the patience runs out and leaves only air? That’s when the guns come out, and the bombs, and clumsy murder known as war. 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. ___________________________ And I look down, with a nation inclining their heads behind me, for we truly mourn your loss, O Seamus a chara! Like the great fíli Yeats before you, you held up a mirror to our land and people to show the world, and to show ourrselves. Quote Drown your sorrows in drink, by all means, but the real sorrows can swim Link to comment Share on other sites More sharing options...
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