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