Friday, 30 August 2013

Day 406: Personal Helicon

'I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.'

RIP Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate, who died today aged 74. As Auden wrote for Yeats: 'Earth receive an honoured guest, WB Yeats is laid to rest,' same be said for him. 

Personal Helicon - Seamus Heaney

for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

*Read more Seamus Heaney poems here:


  1. Beautiful. One of my absolute favourite poets. I was so sad to hear the news yesterday.

    I forget the title but there is a particular poem of his, not one of his better known ones, that is for me, the perfect example of what a poem should be. One of the lines is 'even Christ's palms smart...' - would definitely recommend googling that one.

    1. Cheryl, the whole country here is devastated. Poetry lovers or not, everyone loved Seamus.

      That's 'Limbo' about the fisherman finding the body of a baby - just read it today again with some others. His poems are just perfectly rendered, I can't think of any other poet so easy with words as he was. He could bend them to his will. 'An alchemist' was one description I read today. He was.
      I saw him read once and the whole room was entranced, young and old. I left a little changed, as did everyone else I'm sure, a little more aware and attuned to the rhythms of life.


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