SEAMUS HEANEY SUPPLEMENTAL POEMS The Perch Perch on their water perch hung in the clear Bann River

Near the clay bank in alder dapple and waver, Perch they called ‘grunts’, little flood-slubs, runty and ready, I saw and I see in the river’s glorified body That is passable through, but they’re bluntly holding the pass, Under the water-roof, over the bottom, adoze On the current, against it, all muscle and slur In the finland of perch, the fenland of alder, on air That is water, on carpets of Bann stream, on hold In the everything flows and steady go of the world. A Shiver The way you had to stand to swing the sledge, Your two knees locked, your lower back shock-fast As shields in a testudo, spine and waist A pivot for the tight-braces, tilting rib-cage; The way its iron head planted the sledge Unyieldingly as a club-footed last; The way you had to heft and then half-rest Its gathered force like a long-nursed rage About to be let fly: do you good To have known it in your bones, directable, Withholdable at will, A first blow that could make air of a wall, A last one so unanswerably landed The staked earth quailed and shivered in the handle? The Play Way Sunlight pillars through glass, probes each desk For milk tops, drinking straws and old dry crusts. The music strides to challenge it Mixing memory and desire with chalk dust. My lesson notes read: Teacher will play Beethoven's Concerto Number Five And class will express themselves freely In writing. One said 'Can we jive?' When I produced the record, but now

Scerra

as if sick. . Perhaps Champ age. They dance and move With purpose. A silence charged with sweetness Breaks short on lost faces where I see New looks. Was noted consequently By critical punters. They praised the way he bounced Plain speech. hugely: Punched words like baled thunder And won his first KO. Suddenly. so I doubt The ex-champ was a thug. each authoritative note Pumps the classroom up tight as a tyre Working its private spell behind eyes That stare wide. Then notes stretch taut as snares. He hit language rough clouts But lacked style which only comes Many hard scraps later. They never simply slug The ear. trounced His each personal hate. the tongues mime Their blundering embrace of the free Word.The big sound has silenced them. Higher And firmer. and was promoted. His jabs went blunt. So he wrote like hell. his use of brute Verbs. Whole fights were quoted. But poets don't And though they must touch gloves With speech and box hard thoughts. Ex-Champ At first there were short bouts With people and old poems For sparring partners. Love. Then one day he let go Like an old bull. forgot. The punch weakened and scraps Were lost. Fans missed the old cruel kick. They have forgotten me For once. The pens are busy. Discussed. They trip To fall into themselves unknowingly.

To celebrate each joy they meet. Exploding comfortably down on the cliffs But no: when it begins. . But the pupils are his masterpiece. and found only the secular powers of the Atlantic thundering. Reads every boy like a new book. Nor are there trees Which might prove company when it blows full Blast: you know what I mean . This wizened earth has never troubled us With hay. spits like a tame cat Turned savage. Sink walls in rock and roof them with good slate. North I returned to a long strand. the flung spray hits The very windows. We just sit tight while wind dives And strafes invisibly. "His work says little that is new" According to one slick review. Strange.leaves and branches Can raise a tragic chorus in a gale So that you listen to the thing you fear Forgetting that it pummels your house too. To tell small truths instead of lies In big words that sound fine. no natural shelter. there are no stacks Or stooks that can be lost. We are bombarded with the empty air. so. You might think that the sea is company. A week's a chapter in the tale Where thirty boys drive towards the gale Of living . Teaching each child to use his eyes. But there are no trees.Writer and Teacher A humble master of two trades Who keeps to his own room. it is a huge nothing that we fear.once his lessons cease. Space is a salvo. He hatches talent with his own. as you see. Storm on the Island We are prepared: we build our houses squat. Can breed a tenderness in boneheads. evades The market-place and the headline. always helping them to look With love at movement in the street. the hammered curve of a bay.

Expect aurora borealis in the long foray but no cascade of light. thick-witted couplings and revenges. Keep your eye clear as the bleb of icicle. prune-skinned.I faced the unmagical invitations of Iceland. the pathetic colonies of Greenland. burrow the coil and gleam of your furrowed brain. the hatreds and behind-backs of the althing. exhaustions nominated peace. and suddenly those fabulous raiders. prune-stones for teeth. those lying in Orkney and Dublin measured against their long swords rusting. lifted again in violence and epiphany. those hacked and glinting in the gravel of thawed streams were ocean-deafened voices warning me. Oval-faced. lies and women. They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair . It said ‘Lie down in the word-hoard.’ Strange Fruit Here is the girl’s head like an exhumed gourd. Compose in darkness. memory incubating the spilled blood. those in the solid belly of stone ships. The longship’s swimming tongue was buoyant with hindsight — it said Thor’s hammer swung to geography and trade. trust the feel of what nubbed treasure your hands have known.

Until the tinkling bottom had been covered With green ones. Then red ones inked up and that hunger Sent us out with milk cans. Scrabble in memoriam Ton Delaney. The juice was stinking too. hard as a knot. It wasn’t fair That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot. Blackberry-Picking For Philip Hobsbaum Late August. from Glanmore Revisited I. archaeologist Bare flags. At first. jam pots Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots. Our hands were peppered With thorn pricks. We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre But when the bath was filled we found a fur. Each year I hoped they’d keep. red. glutting on our cache. A rat-grey fungus. given heavy rain and sun For a full week. the sweet flesh would turn sour. perishable treasure: Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod. green. knew they would not. Winter-evening cold. Our backs might never warm up but our faces Burned from the hearth-blaze and the hot whiskeys. a glossy purple clot Among others. . Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings. nameless. terrible Beheaded girl. our palms sticky as Bluebeard’s. Once off the bush The fruit fermented. cornfields and potato drills We trekked and picked until the cans were full. pea tins. and on top big dark blobs burned Like a plate of eyes. just one. Diodorus Siculus confessed His gradual ease among the likes of this: Murdered. Pash of tallow. Pump water. You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet Like thickened wine: summer’s blood was in it Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for Picking. forgotten. outstaring What had begun to feel like reverence. Round hayfields. outstaring axe And beatification. I always felt like crying. Let the air at her leathery beauty.And made an exhibition of its coil. the blackberries would ripen.

Fell sometimes on the polished sod. the sweating team turned round And back into the land. As green sticks hissed and spat into the ashes And whatever rampaged out there couldn’t reach us. Year after year. At the headrig. falling. Intransitive. Meaning to scratch or rake at something hard. But today It is my father who keeps stumbling Behind me. clinking tools. Follower My father worked with a horse-plough. His shoulders globed like a full sail strung Between the shafts and the furrow.It felt remembered even then. I wanted to grow up and plough. The sod rolled over without breaking. I was a nuisance. slated and stone-walled. Yapping always. An expert. . Mapping the furrow exactly. tripping. The horses strained at his clicking tongue. an old Rightness half-imagined or foretold. So ‘scrabble’ let it be. shuttered. stiffen my arm. His eye Narrowed and angled at the ground. with a single pluck Of reins. All I ever did was follow In his broad shadow round the farm. To close one eye. Sometimes he rode me on his back Dipping and rising to his plod. our game of Scrabble: love Taken for granted like any other word That was chanced on and allowed within the rules. and will not go away. He would set the wing And fit the bright steel-pointed sock. Our scraping. Firelit. Which is what he hears. I stumbled in his hob-nailed wake.

Sign up to vote on this title
UsefulNot useful