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In Gratitude for Seamus Heaney

Seamus HeaneyThe prolific and beloved Irish poet, writer, and teacher, Seamus Heaney, has died.

Heaney received the highest accolades for his work, including the Nobel Prize in Literature (1995), the Golden Wreath of Poetry (2001), the T. S. Eliot Prize (2006) and two Whitbread prizes (1996 and 1999).

He was both the Harvard and the Oxford Professor of Poetry and was made a Commandeur de l’Ordre des Arts et Lettres in 1996. Acclaimed as the most influential Irish poet since W. B. Yeats, his pen is stilled, but his work lives on.

With deep gratitude for how you set the darkness echoing, go in peace, Seamus Heaney.

Personal Helicon
by Seamus Heaney

for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.