October 26th, 2004

hermione by oatmilk

Seamus Heaney gets his own entry [update on me coming soon]

I continue to be irked by the whole "introducing of the introducer" thing, and Ellen Watson can be kind of annoying, but mt got to introduce Seamus Heaney, so all was good. Had forgotten how much i heart that man. He clearly feels at home on the stage. "First I'd like to thank Ellen Watson for stealing the first page of my introduction." Dramatically flourishes the top sheet on his sheaf of papers and puts it at the bottom of the stack. And busting open a bottle of water on the podium, because Seamus won't need 3 bottles. The talk itself, though... hello academic intro much. And this man gets modest when we call him brill? Heaney said the introduction did what Horace said it should do, "It instructed you [gesturing to the audience] and delighted me." mt mentioned Heaney talking about the combination of narcissism and self-mockery required for a successful reading, which is so true.

Heaney said that his daughter recently looked at a copy of his poem "Digging" which was dated 1964 since that's when he wrote it, and she noted that he was as old then as she is now, and she said he was very confident. He said he wasn't confident, the poem was.

He quoted Yeats and said he has a friend who writes him letters "Dear Bundle..." which i adore.
Even when the poet seems most himself…he is never the bundle of accident and incoherence that sits down to breakfast; he has been reborn as an idea, something intended, complete.
-William Butler Yeats, Essays and Introductions
There's a great line in "Mid-term Break": "Snowdrops and candles soothed the bedside"

Seamus Heaney on Wordsworth: "cheerfulness with an ‘a' is really cheerful"

Talking about when a great tree falls: an absence, but full of light.
For a split second as if nothing had happened
For nothing had that had not always happened
-From Clearances 5
"The Skylight" is my new favorite poem of his even though i hadn't ever heard it before tonight.
The Skylight
Seamus Heaney

You were the one for skylights. I opposed
Cutting into the seasoned tongue-and-groove
Of pitch pine. I liked it low and closed,
Its claustrophobic, nest up-in-the-roof
Effect. I liked the snuff-dry feeling,
The perfect, trunk-lid fit of the old ceiling.
Under there, it was all hutch and hatch.
The blue slates kept the heat like midnight thatch.

But when the slates came off, extravagant
Sky entered and held surprise wide open.
For days I felt like an inhabitant
Of that house where the man sick of the palsy
Was lowered through the roof, had his sins forgiven,
Was healed, took up his bed and walked away.
In his introduction to "Horace and the Thunder" he said that clear blue skies changed after September 11th.
Horace and the Thunder
After Horace, Odes 1, 34
Seamus Heaney

Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now,
He galloped his thunder-cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underneath, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest things

Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked esteemed. Hooked-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing off
Crests for sport, letting them drop wherever.

Ground gives. The heaven's weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle lid,
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores darken day.
And finally, he pronounces "glacier" as 3 syllables.