RIP Seamus Heaney

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  • RIP Seamus Heaney
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    Late August, given heavy rain and sun
    For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
    At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
    Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
    You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
    Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it
    Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
    Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
    Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
    Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
    Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
    We trekked and picked until the cans were full
    Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
    With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
    Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
    With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s.
    We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
    But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
    A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
    The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
    The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
    I always felt like crying. It wasn’t fair
    That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
    Each year I hoped they’d keep, knew they would not.

    Telegraph obit:


    Cheers DD,

    As a former peat cutter, that is truly wonderful.


    One of the greatest ever Irish poets…and until today, 🙁 perhaps one of the greatest living poets.


    …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…

    I’d really recommend anyone with a passing interest look some of his stuff up – he can paint some wonderful pictures with words.


    He was a regular at a Hotel i was head chef at in Derry ,he was only there last week ?
    Sad loss all the same .

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    He’s one of the only poets whose material I can recall from memory. Sad loss. ‘The Early Purges’ was always popular one at my school.


    A true great.


    Not the one who takes up his bed and walks
    But the ones who have known him all along
    And carry him in –

    Their shoulders numb, the ache and stoop deeplocked
    In their backs, the stretcher handles
    Slippery with sweat. And no let up

    Until he’s strapped on tight, made tiltable
    and raised to the tiled roof, then lowered for healing.
    Be mindful of them as they stand and wait

    For the burn of the paid out ropes to cool,
    Their slight lightheadedness and incredulity
    To pass, those who had known him all along.


    Oh no. 🙁

    A truly great man – I’ll never tire of his poetry (or his prose).

    The Peninsula

    When you have nothing more to say, just drive
    For a day all round the peninsula.
    The sky is tall as over a runway,
    The land without marks, so you will not arrive

    But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
    At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
    The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
    And you’re in the dark again. Now recall

    The glazed foreshore and silhouetted log,
    That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
    The leggy birds stilted on their own legs,
    Islands riding themselves out into the fog,

    And drive back home, still with nothing to say
    Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
    By this: things founded clean on their own shapes,
    Water and ground in their extremity.

    Very sad day – I really liked his 1999 translation of “Beowulf”, masterful. A very earthy poet.

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