Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light
In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep
A beggar shivering in silhouette.
So the particular judgement might be set:
Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into-
Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams.
And after the commanded journey, what?
Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown.
A gazing out from far away, alone.
And it is not particular at all,
Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round.
Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind.
Once, as a child, out in a field of sheep,
Thomas Hardy pretended to be dead
And lay down flat among their dainty shins.
In that sniffed-at, bleated-into, grassy space
He experimented with infinity.
His small cool brow was like an anvil waiting
For sky to make it sing the prefect pitch
Of his dumb being, and that stir he caused
In the fleece-hustle was the original
Of a ripple that would travel eighty years
Outward from there, to be the same ripple
Inside him at its last circumference.
(I misremembered. He went down on all fours,
Florence Emily says, crossing a ewe-leaze.
Hardy sought the creatures face to face,
Their witless eyes and liability
To panic made him feel less alone,
Made proleptic sorrow stand a moment
Over him, perfectly known and sure.
And then the flock's dismay went swimming on
Into the blinks and murmurs and deflections
He'd know at parties in renowned old age
When sometimes he imagined himself a ghost
And circulated with that new perspective.)
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.
Seamus Heaney's Other Poems
Read this poem in other languages
This poem has not been translated into any other language yet.
Comments about this poem (From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney )
Did you read them?
- On Chloris being ill, Robert Burns
- Birthday Ode for 31st December, 1787, Robert Burns
- Silhouette, Bradley Flowers
- Lines Written under the Picture of Miss .., Robert Burns
- Venetian Candy, John Updike
- Sylvander to Clarinda, Robert Burns
- The Lady, PAUL COLVIN
- From ' The Holy Roode', Sir John Davies
- Tao in the Yankee Stadium Bleachers, John Updike
- Epigram on Dr. Babington's looks, Robert Burns
Poem of the Day
- Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night, Dylan Thomas
- Daffodils, William Wordsworth
- All the World's a Stage, William Shakespeare
- If You Forget Me, Pablo Neruda
- The Road Not Taken, Robert Frost
- Still I Rise, Maya Angelou
- Emmonsail's Heath in Winter, John Clare
- A Fairy Song, William Shakespeare
- Annabel Lee, Edgar Allan Poe
- If, Rudyard Kipling
(26 April 1564 - 23 April 1616)
(March 26, 1874 – January 29, 1963)
(12 July 1904 – 23 September 1973)
(27 March 1926 – 25 July 1966)
(4 April 1928 - 28 May 2014)
(1924 - 2000)
(27 October 1914 – 9 November 1953)
Edgar Allan Poe
(19 January 1809 - 7 October 1849)