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Posts Tagged ‘Seamus Heaney’

Saturday Poem: Miracle by Seamus Heaney

In Poetry on June 17, 2012 at 3:44 pm

If ever Yeats’ admonition to cast a cold eye on life, on death, was obeyed, then the series of essays the late Christopher Hitchens wrote for Vanity Fair after the diagnosis of his cancer, is its most admirable literary exemplar. The first of this series of meditations, describes his “deportation from the domicile of the well to the land of malady”.

Today a poem about the kind sentries who man this boundary between the two lands and offer the first welcome upon ones resettlement into the land of the sick. I should say here that I’ve thought often about this poem, having been ill and in-and-out-and-back-in to the hospital several times over the past year. Unlike Hitchens, however, my illness is not of much consequence to the rest of the world, and more importantly, hardly as dangerous for me or my loved ones. However, a protracted encounter with paramedics, nurses, medical technicians does fill me with enormous respect for them. There is no dearth of expressions of admiration for doctors or for the forbearance shown by brave family members, but what of the nurses and the hospital staff who, forever as the supporting cast in all the drama of suffering and/or recovery, carry on most unselfishly? Whether in the delirium of an unusually resilient fever and hostage to a potentially-deadly infection or half-crippled with anesthesia, their lifting me to lower me for healing, dressing my wounds, changing my clothes or offering to bathe and cleanse me, were no minor benefactions. For the sick, this familiarity, this “having known him all along” is the first touch of healing.

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Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney

In Poetry on July 18, 2009 at 5:55 pm

As of last week, I am a proud owner of a wonderful, thick, hard-bound copy of “Stepping Stones: Interviews with Seamus Heaney” by Dennis O’Driscoll (published by Faber and Faber).  As the subtitle says, the book is a collection of interviews conducted by O’Driscoll, himself an Irish poet, essayist and critic, over a period of 6 years (2001-2007), mostly done “in writing and by post.

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Tracing out the long arc of his progression, the book is divided into two main sections: Bearings – which deals with his early childhood in Mossbawn and his early forays into poetry – and “On the Books” – which, using each of his published volumes as a framework, discuss the circumstances and influences that went into their composition. Along the way is abundant anecdotal information about Heaney’s personal and public life, his friendships, influences, challenges, all interspersed with pictures.

In the words of O’Driscoll, “[..] But Seamus Heaney- as anyone who has heard him Read the rest of this entry »

Saturday Poem: Digging by Seamus Heaney

In Poetry on June 28, 2009 at 4:04 am

I love and admire the poetry of Seamus Heaney. What more need I say? Over the years his poems have nourished the heart, lifted and steadied the spirit unlike any other poet in the English language. I can vividly recall the spring of 2004 when I first bought a copy of “Poems: 1965-1975”, and how deeply enchanted I was from the very first page. The ensuing summer was a heady time – Heaney summer, as I think of it, when I devoured almost all his work, poems and prose, I could lay hands on. There will be plenty to say later on.

To be sure, his work is rooted in the “local” – the landscape and memories of his native Ireland (which itself is fascinating to someone who grew up in the dry, dusty plains of India), and yet it is open to everyone. “Digging” is a perfect example of this: anyone familiar with the rythms of rural life – the work on and of the land – will feel its tug and pull, and so also, as the poem closes, all who have thought about what it means to follow in the footsteps of one’s forbears.

What a blessing to be alive at a time when this immortal giant of letters is still writing and publishing!

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