A sad Poetry Friday, today, with the news of the death of Nobel laureate and generally incredibly highly-esteemed Irish poet Seamus Heaney. Lots of you, like me, will have first encountered Heaney’s poetry in the AQA Anthology for English Literature at GCSE and A-Level. And, like so many other names I discovered in this way (Chinua Achebe and Carol-Ann Duffy, here’s looking at you), I always passed over their work in my non-academic poetic pursuits because their names felt too familiar; they had a comfortable, classroom-friendly vibe about them which was a big turn-off. How foolish. Heaney’s poems are simply beautiful, and you can see why he was gilded with so many awards and titles. Here I’ve reproduced for you a very poignant example, given its title. If you don’t get a lump in your throat, you’re a stronger soul than I.
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open
With condolences to Seamus’ family and friends, until next time x
More Heaney: http://www.poemhunter.com/seamus-heaney-3/
Artwork: Photograph of the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim. Providence unknown, so please let me know if you know who the photographer is!
p.s. My boyfriend and his friends are away in Ireland this week, and this poem makes me seriously consider hopping on the next plane out of Edinburgh to join them. Dan – I hope you’re having a glorious time.