Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Heaney Remembered

My favorite poet, Seamus Heaney, was remembered by his fellow poets the other night.  Nice article in the Times here, which makes mention of a poem called Punishment.  This is Heaney reciting his own work ...



I'd love to know what the artwork is.

If you like to read along, or consult back later, neither of which being a bad idea necessarily, although sometimes it's better to just hear the thing first, then scrounge around, here's the text ...

Punishment
I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.
It blows her nipples
to amber beads,
it shakes the frail rigging
of her ribs.
I can see her drowned
body in the bog,
the weighing stone,
the floating rods and boughs.
Under which at first
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin:
her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn,
her blindfold a soiled bandage,
her noose a ring
to store
the memories of love.
Little adultress,
before they punished you
you were flaxen-haired,
undernourished, and your
tar-black face was beautiful.
My poor scapegoat,
I almost love you
but would have cast, I know,
the stones of silence.
I am the artful voyeur
of your brain’s exposed
and darkened combs,
your muscles’ webbing
and all your numbered bones:
I who have stood dumb
when your betraying sisters,
cauled in tar,
wept by the railings,
who would connive
in civilized outrage
yet understand the exact
and tribal, intimate revenge.
–Seamus Heaney, 1975
And, if you're in the mood for a quick explanation, you can try this.

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