Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

So very, very saddened to hear of the Irish poet, Seamus Heaney's passing today at the age of 74.


Heaney is something of the poet laureate of our house. We had the privilege of hearing him read when we were dating and his work has come with us through all ten years of marriage. Our favorite poem by far, is North (which partially inspired the name for my designs). Over the years we've memorized parts of North and have had a good time reciting it (in what we consider loud Viking accents) when standing on frozen shores and while having a pint. Today it takes a more somber note. 

North

I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,   
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.

I faced the unmagical
invitations of Iceland,
the pathetic colonies
of Greenland, and suddenly

those fabulous raiders,
those lying in Orkney and Dublin   
measured against
their long swords rusting,

those in the solid
belly of stone ships,
those hacked and glinting
in the gravel of thawed streams

were ocean-deafened voices
warning me, lifted again
in violence and epiphany. 
The longship’s swimming tongue

was buoyant with hindsight—
it said Thor’s hammer swung
to geography and trade,
thick-witted couplings and revenges,

the hatreds and behind-backs
of the althing, lies and women,   
exhaustions nominated peace,   
memory incubating the spilled blood.

It said, ‘Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow   
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.

Compose in darkness.   
Expect aurora borealis   
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.

Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure   
your hands have known.’