Originally Blogging the Artist's Way. Thoughts, musings, experience of the 12-week course, January to March 2006. And after that?.... Life, creativity, writing. Where does it all meet? Here, perhaps.

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Thursday Poem - St. Kevin and the Blackbird

Some of you have not had the pleasure of discovering Irish poet and Nobel Laureate, Seamus Heaney. I've been lucky enough to hear him read three times, and oh... This is poetry! I don't know how to select just one poem, but I love this one, and it has a spring theme, too, so allow me to share

St Kevin and the Blackbird

And then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so

One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
and Lays in it and settles down to nest.

Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,

Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.


And since the whole thing's imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time

From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth

Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in Love's deep river,
'To labour and not to seek reward,' he prays,

A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river's name.

Seamus Heaney


At 23/3/06 3:03 pm, Blogger gkgirl said...

i am definately going to check
into more of his stuff...
that caught my attention

At 23/3/06 3:56 pm, Blogger In Otter Space said...

Thnaks for sharing this Seamus Heaney poem with us.

I especially enjoyed the lines when he said.....
"And since the whole thing's imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time"

Love how his questions pulled me in.

I think I'll post a poem today too.

At 23/3/06 4:14 pm, Blogger eliza said...

your taste in poetry is exquisite, in my (nearly completely ignorant) estimation. actually, this guy has been on my radar before. i love how he weaves the soaring sacred all together with the down-to-earth human stuff of daily life on earth. come to think of it, this reminds me of what i love about james joyce. is it an irish thing? (oh dear i fear i sound like the dumb american i am... might as well say what i'm thinking, though...) thanks for the poem.

At 24/3/06 12:48 am, Blogger Cate said...

This was incredible moving to me--I'm actually tearing up here. Such an intimate, personal piece.

"To labour and not to seek reward:" what wonderful, honest words; I should paint them across the walls of my house.

This evoked so many memories for me: we've had doves build their nest on our kitchen windowsill for the last couple of Summers. It is always such a pain, trying to allow them their space to create, then flourish.

I am SO grateful you shared this man's work. To have heard him read--oh, you have been blessed!

At 24/3/06 3:10 am, Blogger Terri /Tinker said...

Thank you for sharing this - his words especially resonated for me today. I think this was a message I really needed to hear right now.
I would like to read more of his work.

At 24/3/06 5:08 am, Blogger liz elayne said...

(have i said this before?), i always love stopping by because you invite me to see things in a new way - this time it is to see/hear/take in the words of a poet who is new to me.
thank you...

At 24/3/06 6:03 am, Blogger Sky said...

Oh...beautiful story and imagination and philosophy here. Thank you so much for sharing this very tenderly told piece.

At 25/3/06 3:46 am, Blogger Kara said...

wow, thanks for the poem!

At 14/6/08 5:48 am, Blogger Stefan Andre Waligur said...

Thanks for sharing this lovely poem. I had the privilege of being with Seamus Heaney on the feast of St. Kevin in the Cathedral Church of the ruins of St. Kevin in Glendalough listening to him read his poem. He read and we all listened with such affection. I shared a little of my music with a precious group of people from St. Kevin's Church and... as so often happens in Ireland it started to rain. It was such a soft rain and it all felt like a complete and utter blessing.
Stefan Andre Waligur


Post a Comment

<< Home