Act of Union by Seamus Heaney

I

To-night, a first movement, a pulse,
As if the rain in bogland gathered head
To slip and flood: a bog-burst,
A gash breaking open the ferny bed.
Your back is a firm line of eastern coast
And arms and legs are thrown
Beyond your gradual hills. I caress
The heaving province where our past has grown.
I am the tall kingdom over your shoulder
That you would neither cajole nor ignore.
Conquest is a lie. I grow older
Conceding your half-independent shore
Within whose borders now my legacy
Culminates inexorably.

II

And I am still imperially
Male, leaving you with the pain,
The rending process in the colony,
The battering ram, the boom burst from within.
The act sprouted an obstinate fifth column
Whose stance is growing unilateral.
His heart beneath your heart is a wardrum
Mustering force. His parasitical
And ignorant little fists already
Beat at your borders and I know they’re cocked
At me across the water. No treaty
I forsee will salve completely your tracked
And stretchmarked body, the big pain
That leaves you raw, like opened ground, again.


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Seamus_Heaney

Seamus Heaney

A friend of mine, knowing I like poetry, gifted me a small book recovered from a garage sale the other day. The author is Seamus Heaney. I have never heard of him. The book is entitled North.

I prefer to NOT look up background on a poet before reading their work initially. I don’t want to be prejudiced one way or another by the accolades they have or haven’t received. I don’t want to know if they are obscure and unknown, or whether they have received high praise from academic circles. I guess I want to experience their work through my own lens before considering other people’s view.

I randomly opened the book and was immediately drawn in. I later told my friend that I don’t know immediately who to compare him to, other than Shakespeare. I’ll have to give in and look him up at some point. Meanwhile here is an opening stanza to one of his poems. I don’t understand or like the 2nd stanza, but I can’t get the first out of my head:

He courted her
With a decadent sweet art
Like the wind’s vowel
Blowing through the hazels:

If you want to read the 2nd stanza the poem is titled Aisling.

This stanza is completely light compared to the darkness, overall, of the rest of the pieces in the book, which seem to be describing the recovery of bodies dumped in a bog, in Ireland, presumably during the course of war.

I will take it all in, make my guesses toward understanding and then look up more about the book and author online.

To me it is an impressive piece of writing. What a great discovery from a garage sale! Wow.

I will probably transcribe one of the other pieces from the book and post it here at some point in the near future. (for the record)

Corsens Inlet by A.R. Ammons

I went for a walk over the dunes again this morning
to the sea,
then turned right along
   the surf
                         rounded a naked headland
                         and returned

   along the inlet shore:

it was muggy sunny, the wind from the sea steady and high,   
crisp in the running sand,
       some breakthroughs of sun
   but after a bit

continuous overcast:

the walk liberating, I was released from forms,   
from the perpendiculars,
      straight lines, blocks, boxes, binds
of thought
into the hues, shadings, rises, flowing bends and blends   
               of sight:

                         I allow myself eddies of meaning:   
yield to a direction of significance
running
like a stream through the geography of my work:   
   you can find
in my sayings
                         swerves of action
                         like the inlet’s cutting edge:
               there are dunes of motion,
organizations of grass, white sandy paths of remembrance   
in the overall wandering of mirroring mind:
but Overall is beyond me: is the sum of these events
I cannot draw, the ledger I cannot keep, the accounting
beyond the account:

in nature there are few sharp lines: there are areas of   
primrose
       more or less dispersed;
disorderly orders of bayberry; between the rows
of dunes,
irregular swamps of reeds,
though not reeds alone, but grass, bayberry, yarrow, all ...
predominantly reeds:

I have reached no conclusions, have erected no boundaries,   
shutting out and shutting in, separating inside
          from outside: I have
          drawn no lines:
          as

manifold events of sand
change the dune’s shape that will not be the same shape   
tomorrow,

so I am willing to go along, to accept   
the becoming
thought, to stake off no beginnings or ends, establish   
         no walls:

by transitions the land falls from grassy dunes to creek   
to undercreek: but there are no lines, though
       change in that transition is clear
       as any sharpness: but “sharpness” spread out,   
allowed to occur over a wider range
than mental lines can keep:

the moon was full last night: today, low tide was low:   
black shoals of mussels exposed to the risk
of air
and, earlier, of sun,
waved in and out with the waterline, waterline inexact,   
caught always in the event of change:   
       a young mottled gull stood free on the shoals
       and ate
to vomiting: another gull, squawking possession, cracked a crab,   
picked out the entrails, swallowed the soft-shelled legs, a ruddy
turnstone running in to snatch leftover bits:

risk is full: every living thing in
siege: the demand is life, to keep life: the small
white blacklegged egret, how beautiful, quietly stalks and spears
               the shallows, darts to shore
                            to stab—what? I couldn’t
       see against the black mudflats—a frightened
       fiddler crab?

               the news to my left over the dunes and
reeds and bayberry clumps was
               fall: thousands of tree swallows
               gathering for flight:
               an order held
               in constant change: a congregation
rich with entropy: nevertheless, separable, noticeable
          as one event,
                      not chaos: preparations for
flight from winter,
cheet, cheet, cheet, cheet, wings rifling the green clumps,
beaks
at the bayberries
    a perception full of wind, flight, curve,
    sound:
    the possibility of rule as the sum of rulelessness:
the “field” of action
with moving, incalculable center:

in the smaller view, order tight with shape:
blue tiny flowers on a leafless weed: carapace of crab:
snail shell:
            pulsations of order
            in the bellies of minnows: orders swallowed,   
broken down, transferred through membranes
to strengthen larger orders: but in the large view, no
lines or changeless shapes: the working in and out, together   
            and against, of millions of events: this,
                         so that I make
                         no form of
                         formlessness:

orders as summaries, as outcomes of actions override   
or in some way result, not predictably (seeing me gain   
the top of a dune,
the swallows
could take flight—some other fields of bayberry   
            could enter fall
            berryless) and there is serenity:

            no arranged terror: no forcing of image, plan,
or thought:
no propaganda, no humbling of reality to precept:

terror pervades but is not arranged, all possibilities   
of escape open: no route shut, except in   
   the sudden loss of all routes:

            I see narrow orders, limited tightness, but will   
not run to that easy victory:
            still around the looser, wider forces work:
            I will try
       to fasten into order enlarging grasps of disorder, widening   
scope, but enjoying the freedom that
Scope eludes my grasp, that there is no finality of vision,   
that I have perceived nothing completely,
that tomorrow a new walk is a new walk.

One Train May Hide Another by Kenneth Koch

One Train May Hide Another
(sign at a railroad crossing in Kenya)

In a poem, one line may hide another line,
As at a crossing, one train may hide another train.
That is, if you are waiting to cross
The tracks, wait to do it for one moment at
Least after the first train is gone. And so when you read
Wait until you have read the next line--
Then it is safe to go on reading.
In a family one sister may conceal another,
So, when you are courting, it's best to have them all in view
Otherwise in coming to find one you may love another.
One father or one brother may hide the man,
If you are a woman, whom you have been waiting to love.
So always standing in front of something the other
As words stand in front of objects, feelings, and ideas.
One wish may hide another. And one person's reputation may hide
The reputation of another. One dog may conceal another
On a lawn, so if you escape the first one you're not necessarily safe;
One lilac may hide another and then a lot of lilacs and on the Appia
          Antica one tomb
May hide a number of other tombs. In love, one reproach may hide 
          another,
One small complaint may hide a great one.
One injustice may hide another--one colonial may hide another,
One blaring red uniform another, and another, a whole column. One 
          bath may hide another bath
As when, after bathing, one walks out into the rain.
One idea may hide another: Life is simple
Hide Life is incredibly complex, as in the prose of Gertrude Stein
One sentence hides another and is another as well. And in the 
          laboratory
One invention may hide another invention,
One evening may hide another, one shadow, a nest of shadows.
One dark red, or one blue, or one purple--this is a painting
By someone after Matisse. One waits at the tracks until they pass,
These hidden doubles or, sometimes, likenesses. One identical twin
May hide the other. And there may be even more in there! The 
          obstetrician
Gazes at the Valley of the Var. We used to live there, my wife and I, 
          but
One life hid another life. And now she is gone and I am here.
A vivacious mother hides a gawky daughter. The daughter hides
Her own vivacious daughter in turn. They are in
A railway station and the daughter is holding a bag
Bigger than her mother's bag and successfully hides it.
In offering to pick up the daughter's bag one finds oneself confronted 
          by the mother's
And has to carry that one, too. So one hitchhiker
May deliberately hide another and one cup of coffee
Another, too, until one is over-excited. One love may hide another 
          love or the same love
As when "I love you" suddenly rings false and one discovers
The better love lingering behind, as when "I'm full of doubts"
Hides "I'm certain about something and it is that"
And one dream may hide another as is well known, always, too. In 
          the Garden of Eden
Adam and Eve may hide the real Adam and Eve.
Jerusalem may hide another Jerusalem.
When you come to something, stop to let it pass
So you can see what else is there. At home, no matter where,
Internal tracks pose dangers, too: one memory
Certainly hides another, that being what memory is all about,
The eternal reverse succession of contemplated entities. Reading
          A Sentimental Journey look around
When you have finished, for Tristram Shandy, to see
If it is standing there, it should be, stronger
And more profound and theretofore hidden as Santa Maria Maggiore
May be hidden by similar churches inside Rome. One sidewalk
May hide another, as when you're asleep there, and
One song hide another song: for example "Stardust"
Hide "What Have They Done to the Rain?" Or vice versa. A
          pounding upstairs
Hide the beating of drums. One friend may hide another, you sit at 
          the foot of a tree
With one and when you get up to leave there is another
Whom you'd have preferred to talk to all along. One teacher,
One doctor, one ecstasy, one illness, one woman, one man
May hide another. Pause to let the first one pass.
You think, Now it is safe to cross and you are hit by the next one. 
          It can be important
To have waited at least a moment to see what was already there.

 

The Rats (here they come)

Originally posted on muags:

The rats of potent truth
come at night
to eat my bones
and
learn my secrets
They know
me too well now
and
my flavour is beginning
to sour
They realize
their pursuit has been
a waste of time

There is no new information
in my organs

My heart tastes like
Sangria and buttered toast,
the arteries are clogged
with
plastic love

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