Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney: Death of a Naturalist-Poet

Seamus Heaney has died, aged 74. 

. . .
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

                                                                                    Read the rest.  

Today I'm inclined to reflect that ultimately each of us digs, daily, with the tool that best fits his hand, his own grave. Thank God for the people who dig with such art that we can stand the rest of our own lives contemplating the holes they leave.



lissla lissar said...

I am so sorry. I will forcibly read a bit of his translation of Beowulf to my kids today, in his memory. We have the collection of poetry he edited with Ted Hughes- The Rattle Bag- and it's one of my favourites.

Sally Thomas said...

I love The Rattle-Bag. One of my favorites, too. And that's a timely reminder to me to pull it out and put it in my poetry/copywork mix for the year.

I'm reading the H.E. Marshall retelling of Beowulf now to my 9- and 11-year-olds -- it's obviously a little more . . . retold . . . than Heaney's translation, and I can't get over "Geats" being rendered as "Goths," though I guess of course maybe that's really who they were. Or Heorot being "Hart Hall." Mostly, though, I'm reminded of what a rollicking good story it is (rollicking and gory . . . but certain people here really like that). Have fun with it -- you might not have to force them as much as you think.

Anne-Marie said...

I don´t know Marshall´s version, but I love Ian Serraillier´s for younger kids. It´s what inspired my now-14yo to dress up as Beowulf for Hallowe´en several years ago.

And we listened to Heaney´s own reading of his Beowulf on a long car trip once. Magnificent.

Melanie Bettinelli said...

I think we might listen to a bit of Beowulf this week. I love the sound of Heaney's voice. Not all poets are great readers of their own verse, but I could listen to Heaney recite forever.

I just bought The Rattle Bag and love it. I knew I would, it's been on my wish list forever. Just took me a long time to get to it.

Funny, I was just thinking we weren't doing as much poetry as I'd like and now suddenly I'm finding myself doing it plenty. I guess poetry is one of those things that for me has seasons.