In Memory of S. J. Heaney

Nobel poet laureate Seamus Heaney will be buried tomorrow.

Earth, receive an honoured guest.

The word-weaver who laced England’s language with the peat of Irish bogs will disappear into the blood-rich soil of Ireland, the music of what happens silenced.  Like the bog people, he slips from us into darkness, leaving behind the mystery that all lives trail after them, no matter how many words we use to try to pin it down.

A few thousand will think of this day                                                                                                As one thinks of a day when one did something slightly unusual.

Shortly before his death, the interwebs went supernova with Miley Cyrus and her teddy-bear-suit dancers.  Even now, the debate still smolders over whether she’s slutty, empowered, racist, exploited, promoting rape culture.  All of these issues are important, but the offense that underlies them all is that it takes a spoiled daughter of privilege to raise them to this level.

Poets walk among us, known and unknown.  They open their mouths, and beauty and terror fall from their lips upon parched earth.

In the deserts of the heart                                                                                                                Let the healing fountain start.

They give voice to the things we cannot say, the things we dare not think, the dreams not yet planted within us.  They are with us for a time, and then pass beyond the veil, leaving fiery words and images, beacons to a far country.

But what excites and enrages and moves us is a narcissist insisting that it’s her party and she can do what she wants to.

Intellectual disgrace                                                                                                                     Stares from every human face.

Tomorrow, a boat will set sail, borne across the tide by a divine wind.  No one knows who will receive that cargo.  I imagine it will be Yeats, the Beowulf poet, and a fourteen-year-old adulteress.  I want to experience that meeting–the words and ale that will flow in heaven, the mysteries that will be illuminated.

In the end, we are vessels–containers, ships.  We fill ourselves, and set sail, bearing the cargo we decide to carry with us.  We can cram our holds with whatever artifacts we choose; with the terrible excesses of our age, or its terrible beauties.

I could do without the teddy bears.  I’ll take a pen, for digging.

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