Death of a Naturalist
From Death of a Naturalist, published 1966.
“But best of all was the warm thick slobber
Of frogspawn that grew like clotted water
In the shade of the banks. Here, every spring
I would fill jampotfuls of the jellied
Requiem for the Croppies
Written in 1966, on the 50th anniversary of the 1916 Easter Rising. Printed in Door into The Dark, 1969.
“Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.”
Mossbawn: Two Poems in Dedication
Published in North, in 1975 and dedicated to Mary Heaney.
“Now she dusts the board
with a goose’s wing,
now sits, broad-lapped,
with whitened nails
and measling shins:
here is a space
again, the scone rising
to the tick of two clocks.”
1. The Seed Cutters
“They seem hundreds of years away. Brueghel,
You’ll know them if I can get them true.
They kneel under the hedge in a half-circle
Behind a windbreak wind is breaking through.”
The Tollund Man in Springtime
Published in Metre, Spring 2005.
“The soul exceeds its circumstances”. Yes.
History not to be granted the last word
Or the first claim … In the end I gathered
From the display-case peat my staying powers,
Told my webbed wrists to be like silver birches,
My old uncallused hands to be young sward,
The spade-cut skin to heal, and got restored
By telling myself this.”