Thursday, July 21, 2011

My heart is blown open.....

I've stood on this flaggy shore, where a fisherman once threw a fish up over the water's edge for our dinner; have stood and watched these same flocks of swans. And it's in the not-capturing-it that requires the return trip, over and again. Oh, how I miss Ireland....


--by Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightening of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully-grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you'll park or capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.


  1. I never really know what to say about good poetry. I just read, and read again.

  2. I love it. I love Heaney -- a passage from his book "A Cure at Troy" is sort of the touchstone for my book that I've been writing for years and years --

    This poem is stunning -

  3. Ah Cro, yes. I was a creative writing major in college, and good poetry still drains all language out of me, leaving only the stripped-down sinews of the heart....

  4. Elizabeth, Seamus Heaney has the ability to undo me, again and again. This poem ripped the earth out from under me tonight.

    Glad you also are his fan.

    Have you ever heard him in person? He read in Seattle some years back -- a marvelously powerful and gentle personage, tender in his presence and such forceful precision in every syllable. That evening was one of life's peak moments for me.


  5. ah, the power of good does have the force to deal a physical blow - a gasp - a flutter in the gut. Funny, as a lit major, I was often dumb-struck as well, which wasn't conducive to in-class discussion on a particular work....

    Word Verification: sibitat. A habitat for siblings?

  6. beautiful, glorious, of my absolute heart is blown open, again, and again and again.
    Seamus rocks.

  7. Ireland, home of language and horses, of rocks and islands, seas and rivers, meadows and wool, whiskey and beer, oats and cream -- of course you miss it!

    Also not 102 degrees, which it is currently here, and going up from there rapidly.

    Love, C.

  8. I am so envious that you heard him speak. I bought a writer's series ticket this year (at UCLA) like I do every year, but in greater than usual anticipation because Heaney was one of the speakers. And then he cancelled! I was devastated and now even more so because of what you've written.

  9. Elizabeth, on that same visit of his to Seattle, I stood in a long line out the door and down the sidewalk at Open Books --

    -- so that I could get an autograph. And when I finally made my way, in the back of the bookstore, to his table, he took both my books to sign, but paid special attention to one -- Door into the Dark, 1969, and turned it over and over in his hands and said, "Now this is an old one...." He twinkled, in that way that only the Irish can, and signed both books. Ah, what a moment!

  10. Oh, T.--

    You are neither here nor there,
    A hurry through which known and strange things pass

    Seamus says September or October. You have time yet.

  11. Joannie,

    This sounds ominous and wonderful. A prophesy? I am in awe of the world and everything it contains.