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)