Tribute: Seamus Heaney 1939 – 2013

Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013

It was August 31st, the day we packed our bags for home, that I read the news that Seamus Heaney has died the previous day in Dublin.  We lost a great poet, yet I am comforted that his words will continue to inspire new generations yet to come. Over the years, his work encompassed poetry, criticism, theatre and translation.  He was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature in 1995.  His translation of Beowulf was granted the Whitbread Book of the Year in 1999.

Tonight, as I listen to the rain against a nearby window, I think of this poem.

The Rain Stick

Upend the rainstick and what happens next

Is a music that you never would have known

To listen for. In a cactus stalk

 

Downpour, sluice-rush, spillage and backwash

Come flowing through. You stand there like a pipe

Being played by water, you shake it again lightly

 

And diminuendo runs through all its scales

Like a gutter stopping trickling. And now here comes

A sprinkle of drops out of the freshened leaves,

 

Then subtle little wets off grass and daisies;

Then glitter-drizzle, almost-breaths of air.

Upend the stick again. What happens next

 

Is undiminished for having happened once.

Twice, ten, a thousand times before.

Who cares if the music that transpires

 

Is the fall of grit or dry seeds through a cactus?

You are like a rich man entering heaven

Through the ear of a raindrop. Listen now again.

 

For Beth and Rand

7 thoughts on “Tribute: Seamus Heaney 1939 – 2013

  1. Superb Rebecca a great tribute to seamus, a true kind soul of a man, and who fought passionately for the conservation for the country ofthe heart;
    i will never forget his poetry circle in Tara valley, he andPaul Muldoon warmed our spirits on a cold afternoon. Unforgettable.

    hill of Tar

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    • I got goosebumps just thinking about your unforgettable afternoon. Seamus Heaney’s thoughts on poetry resonated within my personal experience. “I can’t think of a case where poems changed the world, but what they do is they change people’s understanding of what’s going on in the world.”

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