Seamus Heaney
Digging by Seamus Heaney

Digging by Seamus Heaney

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 ...

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Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney

Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney

I sat all morning in the college sick bay Counting bells knelling classes to a close. At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home. In the porch I met my father crying-- He ...

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Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney

Blackberry-Picking by Seamus Heaney

Late August, given heavy rain and sun For a full week, the blackberries would ripen. At first, just one, a glossy purple clot Among others, red, green, hard as a knot. You ate ...

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Twice Shy by Seamus Heaney

Twice Shy by Seamus Heaney

Her scarf a la Bardot, In suede flats for the walk, She came with me one eveningFor air and friendly talk.We crossed the quiet river, Took the embankment walk.Traffic holding its ...

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The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney

The Early Purges by Seamus Heaney

I was six when I first saw kittens drown.Dan Taggart pitched them, 'the scraggy wee shits',Into a bucket; a frail metal sound,Soft paws scraping like mad. But their tiny dinWas ...

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Song by Seamus Heaney

Song by Seamus Heaney

A rowan like a lipsticked girl. Between the by-road and the main road Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance Stand off among the rushes. There are the mud-flowers of dialect ...

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Postscript by Seamus Heaney

Postscript by Seamus Heaney

And some time make the time to drive out westInto County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,In September or October, when the windAnd the light are working off each otherSo that the ...

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Clearances by Seamus Heaney

Clearances by Seamus Heaney

In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984 She taught me what her uncle once taught her: How easily the biggest coal block split If you got the grain and the hammer angled right. The ...

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Testimony by Seamus Heaney

Testimony by Seamus Heaney

'We were killing pigs when the Yanks arrived.A Tuesday morning, sunlightand gutter-bloodOutside the slaughter house.>From the main roadThey would have heard the screaming,Then ...

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Anahorish by Seamus Heaney

Anahorish by Seamus Heaney

My 'place of clear water,'the first hill in the worldwhere springs washed intothe shiny grassand darkened cobblesin the bed of the lane.Anahorish, soft gradientof consonant, ...

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The Perch by Seamus Heaney

The Perch by Seamus Heaney

Perch on their water perch hung in the clear Bann RiverNear the clay bank in alder dapple and waver,Perch they called ‘grunts’, little flood-slubs, runty and ready,I saw and I see ...

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Keeping Going by Seamus Heaney

Keeping Going by Seamus Heaney

The piper coming from far away is youWith a whitewash brush for a sporranWobbling round you, a kitchen chairUpside down on your shoulder, your right armPretending to tuck the bag ...

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Bogland by Seamus Heaney

Bogland 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 ...

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Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney

Personal Helicon by Seamus Heaney

for Michael Longley As a child, they could not keep me from wells And old pumps with buckets and windlasses. I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells Of waterweed, ...

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Casualty by Seamus Heaney

Casualty by Seamus Heaney

I He would drink by himself And raise a weathered thumb Towards the high shelf, Calling another rum And blackcurrant, without Having to raise his voice, Or order a quick ...

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From The Frontier Of Writing by Seamus Heaney

From The Frontier Of Writing by Seamus Heaney

The tightness and the nilness round that space when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect its make and number and, as one bends his face towards your window, you catch ...

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Rite Of Spring by Seamus Heaney

Rite Of Spring by Seamus Heaney

So winter closed its fistAnd got it stuck in the pump.The plunger froze up a lumpIn its throat, ice founding itselfUpon iron. The handleParalysed at an angle.Then the twisting of ...

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Act Of Union by Seamus Heaney

Act Of Union by Seamus Heaney

ITo-night, a first movement, a pulse, As if the rain in bogland gathered headTo slip and flood: a bog-burst, A gash breaking open the ferny bed.Your back is a firm line of eastern ...

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The Tollund Man by Seamus Heaney

The Tollund Man by Seamus Heaney

I Some day I will go to Aarhus To see his peat-brown head, The mild pods of his eye-lids, His pointed skin cap. In the flat country near by Where they dug him out, His last gruel ...

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The Harvest Bow by Seamus Heaney

The Harvest Bow by Seamus Heaney

As you plaited the harvest bow You implicated the mellowed silence in you In wheat that does not rust But brightens as it tightens twist by twist Into a knowable corona, A ...

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Requiem For The Croppies by Seamus Heaney

Requiem For The Croppies by Seamus Heaney

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley...No kitchens on the run, no striking camp...We moved quick and sudden in our own country.The priest lay behind ditches with the ...

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Death Of A Naturalist by Seamus Heaney

Death Of A Naturalist by Seamus Heaney

All year the flax-dam festered in the heartOf the townland; green and heavy headedFlax had rotted there, weighted down by huge sods.Daily it sweltered in the punishing sun.Bubbles ...

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The Otter by Seamus Heaney

The Otter by Seamus Heaney

When you plungedThe light of Tuscany waveredAnd swung through the poolFrom top to bottom.I loved your wet head and smashing crawl,Your fine swimmer's back and shouldersSurfacing ...

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Strange Fruit by Seamus Heaney

Strange Fruit by Seamus Heaney

Here is the girl's head like an exhumed gourd.Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth.They unswaddled the wet fern of her hairAnd made an exhibition of its coil,Let the ...

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The Grauballe Man by Seamus Heaney

The Grauballe Man by Seamus Heaney

As if he had been pouredin tar, he lieson a pillow of turfand seems to weepthe black river of himself.The grain of his wristsis like bog oak,the ball of his heellike a basalt ...

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A Suit by Seamus Heaney

A Suit by Seamus Heaney

'I'll make you one,' he said, 'and balance itPerfectly on you.' So I could almost feelThe plumb line of the creased tweed hit my heel,My shoulders like a spar or arms of a ...

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Oysters by Seamus Heaney

Oysters by Seamus Heaney

Our shells clacked on the plates.My tongue was a filling estuary,My palate hung with starlight:As I tasted the salty PleiadesOrion dipped his foot into the water.Alive and ...

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Anything Can Happen by Seamus Heaney

Anything Can Happen by Seamus Heaney

Anything can happen. You know how JupiterWill mostly wait for clouds to gather headBefore he hurls the lightning? Well, just nowHe galloped his thunder cart and his horsesAcross a ...

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‘When all the others were away at Mass’ by Seamus Heaney

‘When all the others were away at Mass’ by Seamus Heaney

3When all the others were away at MassI was all hers as we peeled potatoes.They broke the silence, let fall one by oneLike solder weeping off the soldering iron:Cold comforts set ...

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Villanelle For An Anniversary by Seamus Heaney

Villanelle For An Anniversary by Seamus Heaney

A spirit moved. John Harvard walked the yard,The atom lay unsplit, the west unwon,The books stood open and the gates unbarred.The maps dreamt on like moondust. Nothing stirred.The ...

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Mossbawn: Two Poems In Dedication by Seamus Heaney

Mossbawn: Two Poems In Dedication by Seamus Heaney

1. SunlightThere was a sunlit absence.The helmeted pump in the yardheated its iron,water honeyedin the slung bucketand the sun stoodlike a griddle coolingagainst the wallof each ...

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Tankas For Toraiwa by Seamus Heaney

Tankas For Toraiwa by Seamus Heaney

I loved to carry Her violin case, its nose In air, its back end Nice and heavy, the balance Factored in and factored out. Every time she placed Her two thumbs to the two ...

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Lovers On Aran by Seamus Heaney

Lovers On Aran by Seamus Heaney

The timeless waves, bright, sifting, broken glass, Came dazzling around, into the rocks, Came glinting, sifting from the Americas To posess Aran. Or did Aran rush to throw ...

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Limbo by Seamus Heaney

Limbo by Seamus Heaney

Fishermen at Ballyshannon Netted an infant last night Along with the salmon. An illegitimate spawning, A small one thrown back To the waters. But I'm sure As she stood in ...

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From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney

From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney

I Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep A beggar shivering in silhouette. So the particular judgement might be set: Bare ...

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Follower by Seamus Heaney

Follower by Seamus Heaney

My father worked with a horse-plough, His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow. The horse strained at his clicking tongue. An expert. ...

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Exposure by Seamus Heaney

Exposure by Seamus Heaney

It is December in Wicklow: Alders dripping, birches Inheriting the last light, The ash tree cold to look at. A comet that was lost Should be visible at sunset, Those ...

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Docker by Seamus Heaney

Docker by Seamus Heaney

There, in the corner, staring at his drink. The cap juts like a gantry's crossbeam, Cowling plated forehead and sledgehead jaw. Speech is clamped in the lips' vice. That ...

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A Kite For Aibhín by Seamus Heaney

A Kite For Aibhín by Seamus Heaney

After 'L'Aquilone' by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912) Air from another life and time and place, Pale blue heavenly air is supporting A white wing beating high against the ...

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