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Seamus Heaney RIP

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    Seamus Heaney RIP

    Seamus Heaney died today

    The Telegraph described him as British,

    Can't imagine many lads from Derry called Seamus being British.
    A lion online, a lamb at home.

    I put this up in the Celebrity RIP Thread earlier.

    Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney

    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.


      Valediction 1966
      By Seamus Heaney

      Lady with the frilled blouse
      And simple tartan skirt,
      Since you have left the house
      Its emptiness has hurt
      All thought. In your presence
      Time rode easy, anchored
      On a smile; but absence
      Rocked love's balance, unmoored
      The days. They buck and bound
      Across the calendar
      Pitched from the quiet sound
      Of your flower-tender
      Voice. Need breaks on my strand;
      You've gone, I am at sea.
      Until you resume command
      Self is in mutiny.


        Ah no, that's very upsetting.
        Here's one of my favourites, well-worn but still beautiful:


        By Seamus Heaney

        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.
        Tis but a scratch.


          All I know is a door into the dark....

          So begins The Forge by Seamus Heaney

          Ar dheis De go raibh a hAnam Uasal
          Gwan Joe!!


            Writers recall ‘beloved teacher’ Heaney at New York memorial

            The crowd spilled out into the aisles of Cooper Union Great Hall in New York City to hear 20 American and Irish writers read the words of Seamus Heaney in a memorial poetry reading last night.

            More than 1,000 people swarmed the hall in New York’s East Village to hear singer Paul Simon, novelist Colm Tóibín and poet Paul Muldoon among others – friends of the late Nobel Laureate who died in August – recite his poems.

            Simon read one of his favourite poems, “Casting and Gathering,” from Heaney’s book Seeing Things about fishermen on opposing banks casting their lines, like politicians on opposing sides

            The singer said he heard Heaney read the poem on a visit to the Abbey Theatre in Dublin in 1991. He also read a short haiku written by Heaney.

            Pulitzer Price-winning poet Muldoon, a close friend of Heaney’s, read “Follower,” one of the many poems he wrote about his father and upbringing on a farm in Co Derry.

            This subject was covered in the Glanmore Sonnets, two of which were read by Tóibín, including the couplet: “Vowels ploughed into other, opened ground, Each verse returning like the plough turned ground.”

            Among the other readers last night were Pulitzer Prize winning African American poet Tracy K Smith, a former student of Heaney’s at Harvard University; Californian poet Atsuro Riley, and Edward Hirsch, president of the John Simon Guggenheim Memorial Foundation, which supports artists.

            Eavan Boland, a professor at Stanford in California, read The Singer’s House to the packed hall, describing the poem earlier as “a remarkably, daringly written poem.”

            The poets spoke about how Heaney’s poems captured Irish rural life but transcended geography to offer a broad appeal, as witnessed by the large American crowd at last night’s memorial.

            “There is a lot of rich, beautiful local and regional detail in his work but I think the reason people read it is for that strength of feeling that anybody can translate themselves into,” said Boland.

            Heaney’s wife Marie and daughter Catherine attended last night’s event, which was organised by US poetry groups including The Academy of American Poets and the Poet Society of America along with Heaney’s American publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux.

            Alice Quinn, executive director of Poetry Society of America, said each poet had been asked to select three of Heaney’s poems to avoid overlap.

            When submitted, there was no overlap between their favourite poems, showing the wealth and breadth of Heaney’s work, said Quinn, who worked when she was poetry editor at The New Yorker magazine.

            “As a poet, he was loved because he was so scrupulously kind and generous,” she said. “He was a connector and generator for other poets, and he was a beloved teacher.”

            Many of the poets reading last night told The Irish Times spoke warmly about Heaney’s gregariousness, inclusiveness and cheeky sense of humour.

            “He had a backbone of steel, and also had a ferocity and a brilliant analytical intelligence,” said New York-based poet Tom Sleigh, a reader last night and a friend of Heaney’s for 30 years.

            “All of that was tempered with the fact that he had the time of day for everybody. He could have been a very different man given his gifts and the demands on his time.”

            The event is the first in a series of tributes to Heaney in the US. Actor Gabriel Byrne, author Colum McCann and playwright Enda Walsh will be among the participants in a tribute hosted by the Irish Arts Centre and St Ann’s Warehouse on Friday in Brooklyn, New York.

            Irish ambassador to the US Anne Anderson is hosting an event in Washington DC on Sunday with Paul Muldoon to remember Heaney’s life and work.

            Last night’s reading ended with a recording of Heaney’s reciting his own poem Bogland about the Irish landscape that closes: “The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage. The wet centre is bottomless.”
            "There are a lot of points that we’ve left behind and this is with a young group. That probably tells you what they’re capable of and that they’re a very good side.

            Probably next year or the year after next they will take some stopping"

            Anthony Foley, May 2016. Axel RIP