This collection of thirty-one poems is Seamus Heaney's first since Station Island. The Haw Lantern is a magnificent book that further extends the range of a poet who has always put his trust in the possibilities of the language.
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About the Author
Seamus Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His translations include Beowulf and Diary of One Who Vanished. His collections of poems include Death of a Naturalist and Opened Ground.
Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) received the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995. His poems, plays, translations, and essays include Opened Ground, Electric Light, Beowulf, The Spirit Level, District and Circle, and Finders Keepers. Robert Lowell praised Heaney as the "most important Irish poet since Yeats."
Read an Excerpt
A shadow his father makes with joined hands And thumbs and fingers nibbles on the wall Like a rabbit's head. He understands He will understand more when he goes to school.
There he draws smoke with chalk the whole first week,
Two rafters and a cross-tie on the slate Are the letter some call ah, some call ay.
First it is 'copying out', and then 'English'
Declensions sang on air like a hosanna
For he was fostered next in a stricter school Named for the patron saint of the oak wood Where classes switched to the pealing of a bell And he left the Latin forum for the shade
Of new calligraphy that felt like home.
Here in her snooded garment and bare feet,
He learns this other writing. He is the scribe Who drove a team of quills on his white field.
By rules that hardened the farther they reached north He bends to his desk and begins again.
The globe has spun. He stands in a wooden O.
Made lambdas on the stubble once at harvest And the delta face of each potato pit Was patted straight and moulded against frost.
Watch above each door, the good luck horse-shoe.
Who would hang from the domed ceiling of his house A figure of the world with colours in it So that the figure of the universe And 'not just single things' would meet his sight
When he walked abroad. As from his small window The astronaut sees all he has sprung from,
Or like my own wide pre-reflective stare All agog at the plasterer on his ladder Skimming our gable and writing our name there With his trowel point, letter by strange letter.
When I hoked there, I would find An acorn and a rusted bolt.
If I lifted my eyes, a factory chimney And a dormant mountain.
If I listened, an engine shunting And a trotting horse.
Is it any wonder when I thought I would have second thoughts?
When they spoke of the prudent squirrel's hoard It shone like gifts at a nativity.
When they spoke of the mammon of iniquity The coins in my pockets reddened like stove-lids.
I was the march drain and the march drain's banks Suffering the limit of each claim.
Two buckets were easier carried than one.
My left hand placed the standard iron weight.
Baronies, parishes met where I was born.
I was the last earl on horseback in midstream Still parleying, in earshot of his peers.
From the Frontier of Writing
The tightness and the nilness round that space when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect its make and number and, as one bends his face
towards your window, you catch sight of more on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent down cradled guns that hold you under cover
and everything is pure interrogation until a rifle motions and you move with guarded unconcerned acceleration –
a little emptier, a little spent as always by that quiver in the self,
So you drive on to the frontier of writing where it happens again. The guns on tripods;
data about you, waiting for the squawk of clearance; the marksman training down out of the sun upon you like a hawk.
And suddenly you're through, arraigned yet freed,
past armour-plated vehicles, out between the posted soldiers flowing and receding like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.
The Haw Lantern
The wintry haw is burning out of season,
But sometimes when your breath plumes in the frost it takes the roaming shape of Diogenes with his lantern, seeking one just man;
The Stone Grinder
Penelope worked with some guarantee of a plot.
Me, I ground the same stones for fifty years and what I undid was never the thing I had done.
I prepared my surface to survive what came over it –
For them it was a new start and a clean slate every time. For me, it was coming full circle like the ripple perfected in stillness.
So. To commemorate me. Imagine the faces stripped off the face of a quarry. Practise
A Daylight Art
for Norman MacCaig
On the day he was to take the poison Socrates told his friends he had been writing:
And this was not because Socrates loved wisdom and advocated the examined life.
Caesar, now, or Herod or Constantine or any number of Shakespearean kings bursting at the end like dams
where original panoramas lie submerged which have to rise again before the death scenes –
But hardly Socrates. Until, that is,
Practise the art, which art until that moment he always took to mean philosophy.
for practising the right one from the start –
like daylight through the rod's eye or the nib's eye.
Although they are an occupied nation and their only border is an inland one they yield to nobody in their belief that the country is an island.
Somewhere in the far north, in a region every native thinks of as 'the coast',
The occupiers call it Cape Basalt.
To find out where he stands the traveller has to keep listening – since there is no map which draws the line he knows he must have crossed.
Meanwhile, the forked-tongued natives keep repeating prophecies they pretend not to believe about a point where all the names converge underneath the mountain and where (some day)
In the beginning there was one bell-tower which struck its single note each day at noon in honour of the one-eyed all-creator.
At least, this was the original idea missionary scribes record they found in autochthonous tradition. But even there
you can't be sure that parable is not at work already retrospectively,
of stylized eye-shapes and recurrent glosses in which those old revisionists derive the word island from roots in eye and land.
Now archaeologists begin to gloss the glosses.
One school thinks a post-hole in an ancient floor stands first of all for a pupil in an iris.
like the subversives and collaborators always vying with a fierce possessiveness for the right to set 'the island story' straight.
The elders dream of boat-journeys and havens and have their stories too, like the one about the man who took to his bed, it seems, and died convinced
that the cutting of the Panama Canal would mean the ocean would all drain away and the island disappear by aggrandizement.
From the Republic of Conscience
When I landed in the republic of conscience it was so noiseless when the engines stopped I could hear a curlew high above the runway.
At immigration, the clerk was an old man who produced a wallet from his homespun coat and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.
The woman in customs asked me to declare the words of our traditional cures and charms to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning spells universal good and parents hang swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells are held to the ear during births and funerals.
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
At their inauguration, public leaders must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep to atone for their presumption to hold office –
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang from salt in tears which the sky-god wept after he dreamt his solitude was endless.
I came back from that frugal republic with my two arms the one length, the customs woman having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face and said that was official recognition that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home to consider myself a representative and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere but operated independently and no ambassador would ever be relieved.
My cheek was hit and hit:
When it cleared again something whipped and knowledgeable had withdrawn
and left me there with my chances.
just as I make this now out of the melt of the real thing smarting into its absence.
To be reckoned with, all the same,
rattling the classroom window like a ruler across the knuckles,
and then in no time dirty slush.
but for us, it was the sting of hailstones and the unstingable hands of Eddie Diamond foraging in the nettles.
Nipple and hive, bite-lumps,
when the shower ended and everything said wait.
to say there, there you had the truest foretaste of your aftermath –
when the light opened in silence and a car with wipers going still laid perfect tracks in the slush.
Two Quick Notes
My old hard friend, how you sought Occasions of justified anger!
Who wanted the soul to ring true And plain as a galvanized bucket And would kick it to test it?
Or whack it clean like a carpet.
Abrupt and thornproofed and lonely.
Crashing at barriers You thought ought still to be there,
O upright self-wounding prie-dieu In shattered free fall:
The Stone Verdict
When he stands in the judgment place With his stick in his hand and the broad hat Still on his head, maimed by self-doubt And an old disdain of sweet talk and excuses,
Let it be like the judgment of Hermes,
From the Land of the Unspoken
I have heard of a bar of platinum kept by a logical and talkative nation as their standard of measurement,
We are a dispersed people whose history is a sensation of opaque fidelity.
When we recognize our own, we fall in step but do not altogether come up level.
Our unspoken assumptions have the force of revelation. How else could we know that whoever is the first of us to seek assent and votes in a rich democracy will be the last of us and have killed our language?
A Ship of Death
Scyld was still a strong man when his time came and he crossed over into Our Lord's keeping.
Beowulf, 11., 26–52
Excerpted from "The Haw Lantern"
Copyright © 1987 Seamus Heaney.
Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
From the Frontier of Writing,
The Haw Lantern,
The Stone Grinder,
A Daylight Art,
From the Republic of Conscience,
Two Quick Notes,
The Stone Verdict,
From the Land of the Unspoken,
A Ship of Death,
In Memoriam: Robert Fitzgerald,
The Old Team,
The Milk Factory,
The Summer of Lost Rachel,
The Wishing Tree,
A Postcard from Iceland,
A Peacock's Feather,
Grotus and Coventina,
The Song of the Bullets,
A Shooting Script,
From the Canton of Expectation,
The Mud Vision,
The Disappearing Island,
By Seamus Heaney,
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
He offers help.
She-cat, 10 moons, white fur with gray and golden splotches, no crushes, training to be a warrior.
Name: Jayfire <p> Gender: shecat. I know there is a ton of those but we can't help it <p> Age: 36ish moons <p> Appearence: her fur is a stony grey/blue (hence the name 'jay' because its a shade of blue) with dead drop black paws and firey blue eyes. Short fur like many cats <p> History: not much to tell. Before she came here, she was a nobody..actually she was absolutely nothing. Idk wht to say for this <p> Mate: nope. Kind of hoping that she becomes a single elderly who loves kits and has my bold stories to tell (like when the flood happened and it was chaos :D ) because sometimes, the best stories come from those who never knew love. <p> Crush: used to but friend zoned him...kind of. I guess you can say best friend zoned :) <p> Kits: obviously none <p> Personality: im working on it. Kind of want to make her witty but idk. I can tell you she loves to watch the clan, especially the kits. Oh and she loves swimming and climbing rocks and trees. <p> Thats all folks! Bye
IM LOCKED OUT OF EVERY RES :( ~ Exceed Hazel
Ethereal ('haw' results 2+) starts at the next result. It's a multi-result, so you can either RP multiple cats easily or post as the same one multiple times. Ranks and rules at 'brako' result one. Bios are at 'brako' result two. Promotions are at 'brako' result 3. Before joining, you must read the rules. After being accepted, you must post a bio. The lmperator will post at camp whenever there's any promotions. OOC talking must be kept at a minimum. You can get a book, so you can talk OOC however much you'd like. You must also have your rank in your title. Titos and Exti must raid often when Ethereal is raiding. Ifyou have any questions, feel free to ask me. <br> <p> -lmperator Blue 簻
Random Rebel: You're absolutely right! <br> <p> Flint: You're absolutely right!
Go to next result. We are about to raid!
This is Ethereal. Sh<3>it goes down and stuff happens. Yep. <p> **This'll be the quick rundown** <br> CAMP: starts at res two <br> RULES: 'brako' res one. <br> BIOS: 'brako' res two. <br> ADVANCEMENTS: 'brako' res three. <br> BOOKS: make your own da<3>mn books. Maybe you'll find that you enjoy talking to some poor bas<3>tard and you want to say stuff that you don't want us knowing about. Get a book. Got a mate? Get a book. Got a mistress? Get. A. Fuc<3>king. Book. Please. <p> Peace out, my homies. ~Tedders