Wednesday, May 7, 2014

"Walk on air against your better judgement."


So wrote Seamus Heaney, the great Irish poet who died last September. I'm still wearing black. What a poet he was. He cast his net wide as far as poetry is concerned, but at the core of everything he wrote was his boyhood on a farm in County Derry. He writes about this reverently, in his Nobel Prize lecture, "Crediting Poetry." I think this image must have been the beginning of poetry for him:

“Ahistorical, pre-sexual, in suspension between the archaic and the modern, we were as susceptible and impressionable as the drinking water that stood in a bucket in our scullery: every time a passing train made the earth shake, the surface of that water used to ripple delicately, concentrically, and in utter silence.”

I know there was a world-wide dirge when he died, but I felt it should have been longer and louder and bigger. Something akin to what García Márquez received. 
                                                                 
Seamus Heaney
I can't write about Heaney with any authority. I'm just a fan. A grateful fan. So, instead, here's a link to Seamus Heaney reading one of his earliest poems, "Digging." This, too, takes him back to that farm in County Derry and to his admiration of his father and grandfather. And, knowing that he could never be their equal as diggers of sod, he must do something else.

2 comments:

  1. Richard, I had the pleasure of meeting Mr. Heany at a reading at Spalding in the 80's. What a reading that was!!! He was as kind as he was talented. Down to earth and unimpressed with himself. He read the most beautiful poem about being buried next to his wife. Thank you for this essay.

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