Saturday, December 21, 2013

Canticles for Seamus Heaney 1939-2013

Canticles for Seamus Heaney 1939-2013



On the radio, classical music from horizon-clear Martinique.

Mid-October, mid-afternoon, light breezes under the over-spreading mango,

across envined palmiste, through the abandoned garden, and you imagine the shadows

lacquered, set. The antique

stone staircase reduced to one forlorn curve and a few broken flagstones

leans against the shade.  In the frame, between grasses, is that an egret?

Pastoral pauses at Mount Pleasant, above Castries, in sight of Morne du Don villas,

                                                          high palms edging

the drift of hill across its barricade


of blue bent space.

Seamus Heaney,

phone calls from Stockholm, the graduation of apprentices,

afternoon softening to pastel, numinous,

over Choc’s procession of bright stones — what urgent

apocalypse hesitates to interrupt the coralita flirting among golden crotons?


On the radio, creole music of Malavoi from Martinique.



“Places of writing” – Sandymount Strand to Becune Point

by way of Mossbawn and Chaussée Road

then to Choc and Bellaghy – our corners and yours


where hens squawk under guava trees

and I imagine furrows of Derry in Autumn mists

the blackbird frantic on the skylight of Glanmore –


and Creole violons you loved with their ancient men

are gathering on Walcott’s surf-splattered verandah

with remembrances of you in lakonmet and moolala


and always, always, joynoise of friends and shac-shac players

tuned with our poteen. Ah Seamus!

We strike our notes and dig to roots of ploughs.



“Noli timere,” fear not, as we open the roof of clods

and let him down the mosswalls of Bellaghy

among the scattered cloths and beds


of poets, prophets and men of the palsy

who fall to Compassion in the hammocks of Love

and rise and walk in the grace of Mercy



Harmonies of harps and violons lift above

Carrauntoohil and Morne Gimie, Castle Dawson and Castries.
(c) John Robert Lee

Carrauntoohil is the highest mountain in Ireland; Morne Gimie is the highest mountain in St. Lucia.
Photo: Seamus Heaney with Augustin Papius, leader of the St. Lucian folk music band Manmay Kweyol. (c) J R Lee

This poem is published in Agenda (UK), the Poetry and Opera Issue, dedicated to Seamus Heaney (December 2013)