A few months ago I visited the Seamus Heaney: Listen Again Now exhibition in the Bank of Ireland building in Dublin and passed a happy hour meandering through the wilds and words of his life.
I love Seamus Heaney. The characters he introduces, the pictures he paints, his stories – they are so familiar, his upbringing happened not far from mine, a few generations apart. His poetry has the warmth and weight of your grandmother’s winter stew, comfort food for the soul.
It was a joy then, to wander around this exhibit and look at the family photographs side by side his scraps of paper, stacks of notebooks, the desk he constructed before the window of an attic room.
I’ve been revisiting some old Heaney favourites since, and was delighted to hear his Scaffolding read aloud at the wedding of two dear pals last months, but as we creep into October it was another poem which came to mind.
And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake is lit
By the earthed lightning of a flock of swans,
Their feathers roughed and ruffling, white on white,
Their fully grown headstrong-looking heads
Tucked or cresting or busy underwater.
Useless to think you’ll park and capture it
More thoroughly. You are neither here nor there,
A hurry through which known and strange things pass
As big soft buffetings come at the car sideways
And catch the heart off guard and blow it open.
by Seamus Heaney
Originally published on poets.org.