“I loved hushed air. I trust contrariness”

Ireland’s Nobel laureate poet Seamus Heaney celebrates his birthday today, thanks for the reminder Sheila, and I’ll begin raising the first of many large glass-fulls in his honour soon. It also provides an opportunity to link to his Nobel acceptance speech – which, IMHO, is well worth taking the time to read. Happy Birthday Seamus.And to mark the day here is Seamus Heaney’s Casting and Gathering from Seeing Things.

Casting and Gathering
for Ted Hughes

Years and years ago, these sounds took sides:

On the left bank, a green silk tapered cast
Went whispering through the air, saying “hush.”
And “lush,” entirely free, no matter whether
It swished above the hayfield or the river.

On the right bank, like a speeded-up corncrake,
A sharp ratcheting went on and on
Cutting across the stillness as another
Fisherman gathered line-lengths off his reel.

I am still standing there, awake and dreamy,
I have grown older and can see them both
Moving their arms and rods, working away,
Each one absorbed, proofed by the sounds he’s making.

One sound is saying, “You are not worth tuppence,
But neither is anybody. Watch it! Be severe.”
The other says, “Go with it! Give and swerve,
You are everything you feel beside the river.”

I loved hushed air. I trust contrariness.
Years and years go past and I do not move
For I see that when one man casts, the other gathers
And then vice versa without changing sides.

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