TCC Reads: Opened Ground by Seamus Heaney

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Seamus Heaney

The Irish Catholic poet, essayist and playwright, Seamus Heaney, winner of the Nobel Prize in literature died on Friday in Dublin. He was 74. The oldest of nine children, Heaney grew up in a country plagued by sectarian violence and fell away from Catholicism as a young man, but the faith was always present in his work. His words were an inspiration and a comfort. Where Lazarus is poor no longer, may he find eternal rest. In his honor read the poem Elegy for a Still-Born Child from his collection Opened Ground.

Elegy for  a Still-Born Child by Seamus Heaney

Your mother walks light as an empty creel
Unlearning the intimate nudge and pull

Your trussed-up weight of seed-flesh and bone-curd
Had insisted on. That evicted world

Contracts round its history, its scar.
Doomsday struck when your collapsed sphere

Extinguished itself in our atmosphere,
Your mother heavy with the lightness in her.


For six months you stayed cartographer
Charting my friend from husband towards father.

He guessed a globe behind your steady mound.
Then the pole fell, shooting star, into the ground.


On lonely journeys I think of it all,
Birth of death, exhumation for burial;

A wreath of small clothes, a memorial pram
And parents reaching for a phantom limb.

I drive by remote control on this bare road
Under a drizzling sky, a circling rock.

Past mountain fields full to the brim with cloud.
White waves riding home on a wintry lough.