Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Ireland's best loved

 Seamus Heaney's "While all the others were away at mass" has been chosen as Ireland's best loved poem in a poll. From Clearances III - In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984, it recalls a morning he shared with his mother, peeling potatoes. 
Harvey loved Heaney's work and he would have thoroughly approved of this choice. I'm posting this as a belated tribute for St Patrick's Day, in memory of my two mothers. One was connected with Ireland by birth and one by marriage.
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.

4 comments:

  1. It's a lovely poem. The two Heaney poems that I always enjoyed teaching the most were Follower and Mid-Term Break
    Sláinte!

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    1. Very good to see you yesterday, Alexia.

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  2. What a moving poem, and one that I didn't know. Thank you Anne. I'm going to copy it out.

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    1. I wonder if Harvey did know it too - probably.

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