Thursday, March 17, 2011

Who is your favorite Irish Poet? With a best loved poem by Seamus Heaney

It's Saint Partick's Day but that is not why I'm asking the question - "Who is your favorite Irish poet?" The Irish stand tall when it comes to poetry. The best writers in the English Language have been Irish, so it is said.  While working on my MFA I revered William Butler Yeats, 1865-1939. It was said by many that he was the greatest. I read  and studied his work and wrote about him in my degree year essay. My essay was "The Approach of Death in the Late Poems of William Butler Yeats,  __________ and  ___________.

Later I saw Seamus Heaney, born 1939, still living.  I heard him read his poems at Emory in Atlanta, and I gave my allegiance to him as "the best."  I like Evan Boland, 1944, still living. I met her once and rode to a North Carolina writing conference in the same car with her. I have two of her books and still read them. Paul Muldoon, 1951, still living is a favorite of many.  Who is your favorite Irish poet?


Mid-Term Break by Seamus Heaney
I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.

In the porch I met my father crying--
He had always taken funerals in his stride--
And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram
When I came in, and I was embarrassed
By old men standing up to shake my hand

And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble,"
Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,
Away at school, as my mother held my hand

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived
With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops
And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him
For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,
He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

A four foot box, a foot for every year.

5 comments:

Glenda Beall said...

Nancy, I first read this poem in one of your poetry classes and I love it. I then looked for more of his work and I can see why you like him so much.
Thanks for sharing this poem today.

Anonymous said...

Noted for his essays, rather than his poems, Chris Arthur has become my favorite essayist. Irish, he has taught in Wales and now lives in Scotland. Read him!

Maren O. Mitchell

Nancy Simpson said...

Thanks, Maren. I will.

Anonymous said...

Nancy, The flowering quince just about made my eyes pop out! I do believe your mountain has had something blooming all winter long.
It's gorgeous! And I also loved the poem of Seamus Heany's. Didn't you love how he ended it?
All the best, Glenda Barrett

Joan Ellen Gage said...

There is such sadness in the Irish, in their songs, and in this poem, also.

It was a good poem, the rhyme at the end surprised me. It punctuated the poem.