Wednesday, June 24, 2009

out and a bout

Did I tell you J and I went to see Seamus Heaney read as part of the country's celebration in honour of his 70th birthday hosted by the National Concert Hall? Well, we did! And 'twas lovely.

We had fab seats, about five rows back two or three seats to his right. The concert hall has 360 degree seating, and he read a few poems to those behind. He selected many love poems--to his mother, his father, his wife, his friends, his writing. The reading seemed a tribute to love and friendship, to human connection.

He read a couple of poems about forging, like this one below, which I think can be read as a writing poem, that to knock words into a shape is like the work of a forge:

The Forge

All I know is a door into the dark.
Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;
Inside, the hammered anvil's short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.
The anvil must be somewhere in the centre,
Horned as a unicorn, at one end square,
Set there immoveable: an altar
Where he expends himself in shape and music.
Sometimes, leather-aproned, hairs in his nose,
He leans out on the jamb, recalls a clatter
Of hoofs where traffic is flashing in rows;
Then grunts and goes in, with a slam and a flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows.

What a memorable night. Heaney so down to earth, humane. So dawn and birth and not a show-man, not a bard in the big ego sense, though giver of a great show, sowing bearing of the big-ago sense.

At the close, he left heaped in flowers and applause.