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Seamus Heaney (1939-2013)


“Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, don’t hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracle
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there’s fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.”

― Seamus Heaney

Many of Heaney’s works can be found in the library collection.

Photo by Sean O’Connor [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons


1 Comment »

  1. Comment by Luisa Cywinski — August 30, 2013 @ 9:32 AM

    Thank you for sharing this poem that so beautifully captures both personal and global suffering and the greatest hope that pervades it all.

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Last Modified: August 30, 2013

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