Monday, September 22, 2008

Heaney for beginners

I'm often a little reticent when it comes to reading Seamus Heaney. His poems can be a little obtuse to the mind that desires quick results. Trout is one of the more accessible poems, and a minor joy:

Hangs, a fat gun-barrel,
deep under arched bridges
or slips like butter down
the throat of the river.

From depths smooth-skinned as plums,
his muzzle gets bull's eye;
picks off grass-seed and moths
that vanish, torpedoed.

Where water unravels
over gravel-beds he
is fired from the shallows,
white belly reporting

flat; darts like a tracer-
bullet back between stones
and is never burnt out.
A volley of cold blood

ramrodding the current.

from the collection Death of a Naturalist


Tolu Ogunlesi 1:03 pm  

"Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun."

"Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it."

from 'Digging' my fave Heaney poem.

Even more accessible than 'Trout' I think - especially because it is easier to identify with - a story of 'father and son', of a 'generational shift', of the passage of time, of the origins of artistic creativity, and at the same time, a 'nature poem'. And the singular reference to 'gun' seems to be a brilliant allusion to Northern Ireland's troubles.

Every poet needs to write his/her own 'Digging' i think...

An aside: he seems to be a man who can't afford to waste even one word...

Red Eyes 2:41 pm  

Between my finger and my thumb, I see one that is numb! But why the hell is my hand going numb? Now look at my thumb, or are you dumb? This is what I sing of the numbness in my thumb from hours of playing the dumb guitar

Red Eyes 10:10 am  

Where The Mind Is Without Fear by Rabindranath Tagore, a poet, visual artist, playwright, novelist, and composer. He became Asia's first Nobel Laureate when he won the 1913 Nobel Prize in Literature.

"Where the mind is without fear and the head is held high;

Where knowledge is free;

Where the world has not been broken up into fragments by

narrow domestic walls;

Where words come out from the depth of truth;

Where tireless striving stretches its arms towards perfection;Where the clear stream of reason has not lost its way into the

dreary desert sand of dead habit;

Where the mind is led forward by thee into ever-widening

thought and action;

Into that heaven of freedom, my Father, let my country awake."

Rabindranath Tagore (1861-1941)

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