Friday, 30 August 2013

Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013


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.

(Brings to mind a good friend!)


  1. There's a nice obit in The New York Times this morning. Have a look.

  2. "Who is this, not much higher than the cattle,
    Working his way towards me through the pen,
    His ashplant in one hand

    Lifted and pointing, a stick of keel
    In the other, calling to where I'm perched
    On top of a shaky gate,

    Waving and calling something I cannot hear
    With all the lowing and roaring, lorries revving
    At the far end of the yard, the dealers

    Shouting among themselves, and now to him
    So that his eyes leave mine and I know
    The pain of loss before I know the term."

    Ah wee Maureen, the pain of loss that only men like you and I, who have lived an alternative life can feel my friend...

    1. Chef; And tonight I feel like something from the top shelf. See you there. :¬)