Saturday, 30 January 2016

“Bogland" by Seamus Heaney

Irish Elk, after original by Charles R. Knight

I cannot seem to read enough of Seamus Heaney's poems. Not every single one grabs me, but nearly all do, and nearly all in such a visceral, joyful, even sorrowful way. I feel each hair alive when I read Heaney. Here is one I especially love:


by Seamus Heaney

“for T. P. Flanagan”

We have no prairies
To slice a big sun at evening--
Everywhere the eye concedes to
Encrouching horizon,

Is wooed into the cyclops' eye
Of a tarn. Our unfenced country
Is bog that keeps crusting
Between the sights of the sun.

They've taken the skeleton
Of the Great Irish Elk
Out of the peat, set it up
An astounding crate full of air.

Butter sunk under
More than a hundred years
Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter

Melting and opening underfoot,
Missing its last definition
By millions of years.
They'll never dig coal here,

Only the waterlogged trunks
Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking
Inwards and downwards,

Every layer they strip
Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.

The wet centre is bottomless.

 The Internet Poetry Archive has a downloadable mp3 of Mr. Heaney reading this poem, here.

Irish peat bog, by Amos, Israel, Creative Commons License

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