‘Clearances that suddenly stood open…’

Seamus Heaney died three years ago today and the world lost one of its greatest poets.

In memory of his passing, here is one of my favourite passages from his poem Clearances.

When all the others were away at Mass

 I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.

They broke the silence, let fall one by one

Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:

Cold comforts set between us, things to share

Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.

And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes

From each other’s work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside

Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying

And some were responding and some crying

I remembered her head bent towards my head,

Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—

Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Irish Literature

Cathy746books View All →

I am a 40 something book buying addict trying to reduce the backlog one book at a time!

19 Comments Leave a comment

  1. Bye-Child

    He was discovered in the henhouse

    where she had confined him. He was

    incapable of saying anything.

    When the lamp glowed,

    A yolk of light

    In their back window,

    The child in the outhouse

    Put his eye to a chink–

    Little henhouse boy,

    Sharp-faced as new moons

    Remembered, your photo still

    Glimpsed like a rodent

    On the floor of my mind,

    Little moon man,

    Kennelled and faithful

    At the foot of the yard,

    Your frail shape, luminous,

    Weightless, is stirring the dust,

    The cobwebs, old droppings

    Under the roosts

    And dry smells from scraps

    She put through your trapdoor

    Morning and evening.

    After those footsteps, silence;

    Vigils, solitudes, fasts,

    Unchristened tears,

    A puzzled love of the light.

    But now you speak at last

    With a remote mime

    Of something beyond patience,

    Your gaping wordless proof

    Of lunar distances

    Travelled beyond love.

    Liked by 1 person

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