Dear poetry readers everywhere,
as a mark of respect to Seamus Heaney, who died on Friday, 30 August, we are suspending our usual poetry and art combination, which was to have been Seamus’ poem ‘Postscript’, with a specially commissioned video by artist Maud Cotter. We will put this up on the Poetry Project site at a later date.
Tributes to Seamus Heaney have come in from around the world. EU Commission President José Manuel Barroso described him as “one of the great European poets of our lifetime [...] the strength, beauty and character of his words will endure for generations”, while Michael D. Higgins, President of Ireland, said “The presence of Seamus was a warm one, full of humour, care and courtesy – a courtesy that enabled him to carry with such wry Northern Irish dignity so many well-deserved honours from all over the world”.
We present ‘Postscript’ to you below, as our thoughts go to Seamus’ family, friends, and to all lovers of poetry at this sad time.
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.
‘Postscript’ from Opened Ground, Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney.
Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.
By kind permission of Faber & Faber
And in the USA, used by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. All rights reserved.