Peace for the Soul

A common space for harmonic peacemakers

 

 

Seamus Heaney, the 1995 Nobel laureate in literature, who was often called the greatest Irish poet since Yeats, died on Friday in Dublin. He was 74.

 

 

© Mario Carlini – Iguana Press/Getty Images

Seamus Heaney, the greatest Irish poet of his generation, was a friend and supporter of Amnesty International.

 

 

 

 

Remembering Seamus Heaney

 

 

 

 

From the Republic of Conscience

 

 

I

 

 

When I landed in the republic of conscience
it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.

 

 

At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.

 

 

The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.

 

 

No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.

 

 

II

 

 

Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents
hang swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.

 

 

Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.

 

 

Their sacred symbol is a stylised boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.

 

 

At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office-

 

 

and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.

 

 

III

 

 

I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs woman
having insisted my allowance was myself.

 

 

The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.

 

 

He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.

 

 

Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.

"From the Republic of Conscience," from
Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.

 

 

Seamus Heaney 

 

 

April 13, 1939 – August 30, 2013

 

 

 

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Quote of the moment:

"PEACE
NOT WAR
GENEROSITY
NOT GREED
EMPATHY
NOT HATE
CREATIVITY
NOT DESTRUCTION
EVERYBODY
NOT JUST US"

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