Tuesday, September 3, 2013

where every natural history blogger should be situated

From The Guardian.
Nobel Laureate and beloved poet Seamus Heaney passed away last week.  In reading thoughts and excerpts posted by his friends and followers, I came across this account of what he considered to be his favorite poem:
“I [am] devoted to this poem because the crewman who appears is situated where every poet should be situated: between the ground of everyday experience and the airier realm of an imagined world.  And the essential thing – whether you are the poet or the crewman – is to be able to move resourcefully between these two realms, not to get yourself bogged down in the quotidian, yet not to lose your head in the fantastic.”
Exactly, Seamus, exactly!  I suspect that now whenever I find myself trying to go back and forth between the quotidian and the fantastic, whether it be at the scale of mosses or mountains, I will think of your struggling crewman!

Lightenings viii

The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air.

The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,

A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
And struggled to release it.  But in vain.
'This man can't bear our life here and will drown,'

The abbot said, 'unless we help him.'  So
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
Out of the marvellous as he had known it.

From "Seeing Things", 1991.  Copyright © Seamus Heaney

You can hear Seamus Heaney read The annals say (Lightenings viii) at a celebration after he won the Nobel Prize in Literature in 1995.

"move resourcefully between these two realms"

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