A Poem by Seamus Heaney

The Guardian Hay Festival 2006

He would drink by himself

And raise a weathered thumb

Towards the high shelf,

Calling another rum

And blackcurrant, without

Having to raise his voice,

Or order a quick stout

By a lifting of the eyes

And a discreet dumb-show

Of pulling off the top;

At closing time would go

In waders and peaked cap

Into the showery dark,

A dole-kept breadwinner

But a natural for work.

I loved his whole manner,

Sure-footed but too sly,

His deadpan sidling tact,

His fisherman’s quick eye

And turned observant back.

Incomprehensible

To him, my other life.

Sometimes, on the high stool,

Too busy with his knife

At a tobacco plug

And not meeting my eye,

In the pause after a slug

He mentioned poetry.

We would be on our own

And, always politic

And shy of condescension,

I would manage by some trick

To switch the talk to eels

Or lore of the horse and cart

Or the Provisionals.

Continue reading “Casualty” by Seamus Heaney

One thought on “A Poem by Seamus Heaney”

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.