In the sheer face of bloody violence, the everyday slaughter in the farmyard or the political violence of Irish history, past and present — what place is there for poetry at all, what role can this heightened form of language play in the face of crisis, death, distress?
How then should beauty, or poetry, hold a plea? By showing us things as they are. Irish Sea: Green, swift upsurges, North Atlantic flux Conjured by that strong gale-warning voice, Collapse into a sibilant penumbra. It was marvellous And actual. Heaney creates a way in which you learn to see the actual world around you, in a new light.
The here and now is a sanctuary, we live in a real world, it has to be seen, you have to experience its stark reality if you are not to succumb to seductive ideologies. But, on the other hand: everything you see is in itself connected to a vibrating sense of history, everything has meanings beyond itself, and beyond your own life.
But a paradox can, strangely enough, be something very stable. A metaphor is introduced in the first stanza and recurs, with its meaning turned inside out, in the last. This kind of irony has its place. It has become more restless. This change is visible in a collection like Electric Light from Nothing has been lost, but new elements have been added.
In the first house where I saw electric light, She sat with her fur-lined felt slippers unzipped Year in, year out, in the same chair, and whispered In a voice that at its loudest did nothing else But whisper. Vintage Heaney. It is a magnificent poem. Poets are often tortured souls or great thinkers who show readers a new view of the world they never would have imagined. These greatest English poets provide the kind of emotional connection to the written word that few can. Vote up the absolute best English poets on the list below, or add a famous poet from England who is truly great, but isn't already on the list.
Among the Rocks
William Shakespeare Shall I compare thee to a summer's day? Geoffrey Chaucer The Canterbury Tales. But you—what chance befell that you Were cheated of the Spring, That now you cling so fast to leaves Wherein no bird will sing? The Tree's early leaf-buds were bursting their brown; "Shall I take them away? The Tree bore his blossoms, and all the birds sung; "Shall I take them away?
This Is Not a Spade: The Poetry of Seamus Heaney - digwobbxembtertsi.tk
The Tree bore his fruit in the midsummer glow; Said the girl, "May I gather thy berries now? Away beyond the Jarboe house I saw a different kind of tree. Its trunk was old and large and bent, And I could feel it look at me. The road was going on and on Beyond to reach some other place. I saw a tree that looked at me, And yet it did not have a face. It looked at me with all its limbs; It looked at me with all its bark. The yellow wrinkles on its sides Were bent and dark. And then I ran to get away, But when I stopped to turn and see, The tree was bending to the side And leaning out to look at me.
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You carve dear names upon the faithful rind, Nor in that vernal stem the cross foreknow That Age shall bear, silent, yet unresigned! Oh, tenderly deepen the woodland glooms, And merrily sway the beeches; Breathe delicately the willow blooms, And the pines rehearse new speeches; The elms toss high till they reach the sky, Pale catkins the yellow birch launches, But the tree I love all the greenwood above Is the maple of sunny branches.
Let who will sing of the hawthorn in spring, Or the late-leaved linden in summer; There's a word may be for the locust-tree, That delicate, strange new-comer; But the maple it glows with the tint of the rose When pale are the spring-time regions, And its towers of flame from afar proclaim The advance of Winter's legions.
And a greener shade there never was made Than its summer canopy sifted, And many a day as beneath it I lay Has my memory backward drifted To a pleasant lane I may walk not again, Leading over a fresh, green hill, Where a maple stood just clear of the wood— And oh! All hail to the broad-leaved Maple! With her fair and changeful dress— A type of our youthful country In its pride and loveliness; Whether in Spring or Summer, Or in the dreary Fall, 'Mid Nature's forest children, She's fairest of them all. Down sunny slopes and valleys Her graceful form is seen, Her wide, umbrageous branches The sunburnt reaper screen; 'Mid the dark-browed firs and cedars Her livelier colours shine, Like the dawn of the brighter future On the settler's hut of pine.
She crowns the pleasant hilltop, Whispers on breezy downs, And casts refreshing shadows O'er the streets of our busy towns; She gladdens the aching eyeball, Shelters the weary head, And scatters her crimson glories On the graves of the silent dead. When winter's frosts are yielding To the sun's returning sway, And merry groups are speeding To sugar-woods away; The sweet and welling juices, Which form their welcome spoil, Tell of the teeming plenty, Which here waits honest toil.
When sweet-toned Spring, soft-breathing, Breaks Nature's icy sleep, And the forest boughs are swaying Like the green waves of the deep; In her fair and budding beauty, A fitting emblem, she, Of this our land of promise, Of hope, of liberty. And when her leaves, all crimson, Droop silently and fall, Like drops of life-blood welling From a warrior brave and tall; They tell how fast and freely Would her children's blood be shed, Ere the soil of our faith and freedom Should echo a foeman's tread.
Then hail to the broad-leaved Maple!
I do remember me Of two old elm-trees' shade, With mosses sprinkled at their feet, Where my young childhood play'd; While the rocks above their head Frown'd out so stern and gray, And the little crystal streamlet near Went leaping on its way. There, side by side, they flourish'd, With intertwining crown, And through their broad embracing arms The prying moon look'd down; And I deem'd as, there I linger'd— A musing child, alone— She sought my secret heart to scan From her far silver throne. I do remember me Of all their wealth of leaves, When summer, in her radiant loom, The burning solstice weaves; And how, with firm endurance, They braved an adverse sky, Like Belisarius, doom'd to meet His country's wintry eye.
I've roam'd through varied regions, Where stranger-streamlets run, And where the proud magnolia flaunts Beneath a southern sun, And where the sparse and stinted pine Puts forth its sombre form, A vassal to the arctic cloud, And to the tyrant storm,. And where the pure unruffled lakes In placid wavelets roll, Or where sublime Niagara shakes The wonder-stricken soul, I've seen the temple's sculptured pile, The pencil's glorious art, Yet still those old green trees I wore Depictured on my heart. Years fled; my native vale I sought, Where those tall elm-trees wave; But many a column of its trust Lay broken in the grave.
The ancient and the white-hair'd men. I sought the thrifty matron, Whose busy wheel was heard When the early beams of morning Awoke the chirping bird; Strange faces from her window look'd, Strange voices fill'd her cot, And, 'neath the very vine she train'd, Her memory was forgot. I left a youthful mother, Her children round her knee, Those babes had risen into men, And coldly look'd on me; But she, with all her bloom and grace, Did in the churchyard lie, While still those changeless elms upbore Their kingly canopy.
Though we, who 'neath their lofty screen Pursued our childish play, May show amid our sunny locks Some lurking tints of gray, And though the village of our love Doth many a change betide, Still do those sacred elm-trees stand, In all their strength and pride. You saw how its roots had grasped the ground As if it had felt that the earth went round, And fastened them down with determined will To keep it steady, and hold it still.
Its aged trunk, so stately and strong Has braved the blasts as they're rushed along, Its head has towered, and its arms have spread, While more than a hundred years have fled! Well, that old elm, that is now so grand, Was once a twig in the rustic hand Of a youthful peasant, who went one night To visit his love, by the tender light Of the modest moon and her twinkling host, While the star that lighted his bosom most, And gave to his lonely feet their speed, Abode in a cottage beyond the mead! The mother had silenced her humming wheel; The father returned for the evening meal, The thanks of one who had chosen the part Of the poor in spirit, the rich in heart, Who, having the soul's grand panacea, Feel all is added that's needful here; And know this truth of the human breast, That, wanting little, is being blest.
The good old man in his chair reclined, At a humble door, with a peaceful mind, While the drops from his sun-burnt brow were dried By the cool, sweet air of the eventide. The son from the yoke had unlocked the bow, Dismissing the faithful ox to go And graze in the close. He had called the kine For their oblation at day's decline.
He'd gathered and numbered the lambs and sheep, And fastened them up in their nightly keep.
Choruses from " The Rock "
He'd stood by the coop till the hen could bring Her huddling brood safe under her wing; And made them secure from the hooting owl, Whose midnight prey was the shrieking fowl. When all was finished, he sped to the well Where the old gray bucket hastily fell, And the clear cold water came up to chase The dust of the field from his neck and face, And hands and feet, till the youth began To look renewed in the outer man; And soon arrayed in his Sunday's best, The stiff new suit had done the rest; And the hale, young lover was on his way, Where, through the fen and the field it lay; And over the bramble, the brake and the grass, As the shortest cut to the house of his lass.
It is not recorded how long he staid In the cheerful home of the smiling maid; But when he came out, it was late and dark, And silent—not even a dog would bark, To take from his feeling of loneliness, And make the length of his way seem less. He thought it was strange, that the treacherous moon Should have given the world the slip so soon; And, whether the eyes of the girl had made The stars of the sky in his own to fade, Or not, it certainly seemed to him, That each grew distant, and small, and dim; And he shuddered to think he now was about To take a long and a lonely route; For he did not know what fearful sight Might come to him through the shadows of night!
An Elm grew close by the cottage's eaves; So, he plucked him a twig well clothed with leaves, And sallying forth with the supple arm, To serve as a talisman parrying harm, He felt that, though his heart was so big, 'T was even the stouter for having the twig. For this, he thought, would answer to switch The horrors away, as he crossed the ditch, The meadow and copse, wherein, perchance, Will-o'-the-wisp might wickedly dance; And wielding it keep him from having a chill At the menacing sound of 'Whip-poor-will! When he got safe home, and joyfully found He still was himself! He planted the twig by his family cot, To stand as a monument marking the spot It helped him to reach: and, what was still more, Because it had grown by his fair one's door.
The twig took root; and as time flew by, Its boughs spread wide, and its head grew high; While the priest's good service had long been done, Which made the youth and the maiden one; And their young scions arose and played Around the tree, in its leafy shade.
But many and many a year has fled Since they were gathered among the dead. And now their names with the moss o'ergrown, Are veiled from sight on the church-yard stone, That leans away, in a lingering fall, And owns the power that shall level all The works that the hand of man hath wrought, Bring him to dust, and his name to nought.
T. S. Eliot
Rippling through thy branches goes the sunshine, Among thy leaves that palpitate forever; Ovid in thee a pining Nymph had prisoned, The soul once of some tremulous inland river, Quivering to tell her woe, but, ah! While all the forest, witched with slumberous moonshine, Holds up its leaves in happy, happy silence, Waiting the dew, with breath and pulse suspended,— I hear afar thy whispering, gleamy islands, And track thee wakeful still amid the wide-hung silence.
Upon the brink of some wood-nestled lakelet, Thy foliage, like the tresses of a Dryad, Dripping about thy slim white stem, whose shadow Slopes quivering down the water's dusky quiet, Thou shrink'st as on her bath's edge would some startled Dryad. Thou art the go-between of rustic lovers; Thy white bark has their secrets in its keeping; Reuben writes here the happy name of Patience, And thy lithe boughs hang murmuring and weeping Above her, as she steals the mystery from thy keeping.
Thou art to me like my beloved maiden, So frankly coy, so full of trembly confidences; Thy shadow scarce seems shade, thy pattering leaflets Sprinkle their gathered sunshine o'er my senses, And Nature gives me all her summer confidences. Whether my heart with hope or sorrow tremble, Thou sympathizest still; wild and unquiet, I fling me down; thy ripple, like a river, Flows valleyward, where calmness is, and by it My heart is floated down into the land of quiet.
Ice-storms do that. Often you must have seen them Loaded with ice a sunny winter morning After a rain.