Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney, RIP

I am sure if some of you read this you will feel how I do when I saw so many mourned Steve Jobs, I was sick of seeing peoples blogs and Facebook posts mentioning him. He just did not influence me at all. Sure he did hubs in some ways, but just never crossed my mind to follow him. Maybe some will not even know, but stop for a moment and bow in quiet as I do when a funeral procession drives past me in the car.

A giant has passed away early this morning. I had the opportunity to see him read in Dublin almost 20 yrs ago. I had no idea of his greater influence on the world of poetry, but I seized the opportunity to do something Irish, and I wrote crappy poetry.

Then I saw him in Boston this past February. I knew who he was, read his work. Jim Knowles even mentioned him, and I knew it was time to revisit his work. I had hoped there would be opportunity when hubs and I visit Scotland to swing over to Ireland again, rekindle my longing for its tea and green country side, and the yearning to hear their accents again and catch a glimpse of Seamus sipping tea in an outdoor pub environment. I can dream can't I!

Ireland was one of my dream trips. Three weeks of driving from town to town, turning down the most difficult roads, and feeling the free-est I have ever felt in my life, at the time of course. It of course has lead me to my current path of happiness. My life has in some ways been very painful, but I would never have it any other way. It is who I am.

I will confess, tears do not come for me so easily, maybe years of  difficulty I put up a wall that is not easily broken through, but today I felt loss. I know loss more than some, less than many, and tears flowed.

Seamus Heaney I bid you a happy journey back to whence you came. You shared in a good life, surrounded by family and friends and a landscape of so much there are no words. I read that you liked to converse with ordinary folk like me, leaving out praise because you are humble, and liked to talk of paths, childhood, travel, and shenanigans.

I wrote this poem with you in mind, trying to create a piece reflective of your work-

At the Foot of the Willows

When it is time, cut no more for me
than the great oak takes up. Greed
does not go with us, nor will I ask more
of Earth’s bounty; if you cannot
find me a place, then I will not pine,
as winter comes, nor fall to the ground
like leaves before me, and disappear.

Simply slice out two or more feet if she’ll spare,
so my words may breathe from her pages.

My father once tied his boat
to peeling birch on rising water,
as we dodged their spiders. Today
their quiet markers
still speak to me; as a father
to his child: of what has come and gone,
what lay ahead, while we dream
under the willows which weep.

A full heart must always carry loss
across the road to another side,
great burden of sorrow for those loved—
for those who sit, waiting,
to be moved again: a heavy job for even the steadiest
of hands. Six or more will march in ready pace if asked
up heavy steps, then down again:

When it is time, cut no more sod near the roots,
than is needed. If you
feel tiredness replacing a day’s work,
hurry on, the moon will for a short time light your path:
shovels can wait, sitting as their shadows dance
effortlessly leaning, toward new morning.

Beauty of the towering trees keeps me company.
Winds howl at my back, I under deep diggings,
at the bottom of a not too steep hill, as peace
places a knowing grip.
Rest will come: then we
shall one by one dream 
under her willows which weep.

(photo taken with my cell during the poet laureate talks at AWP 2013 in Boston- it was an honor seeing him for the second time)


Jim K. said...

Very nice!

Mark Shore was hoping to introduce
me next time Seamus came around.
A large piece of Seamus lives on!
Such is the life of great poetry.

I have an odd "short collection"
shelf by my shoulder. It includes
"The Haw Lantern", Seamus' 1987
Nobel piece, Rita Dove's 1987
Pulitzer piece "Thomas and Beulah",
and Ashbery's "Self Portrait In.."

I love the sound and rhetoric
sloshing back and forth, the
stirring oars. I think you got
a feel for that above.

Chef E said...

I threw some Jim K. out at Seamus when I sat in that key note sitting-

I am glad I have his influence...