Saturday Poem By Seamus Heaney-R.I.P: ‘The Grauballe Man’

The Grauballe Man

As if he had been poured
in tar, he lies
on a pillow of turf
and seems to weep

the black river of himself.
The grain of his wrists
is like bog oak,
the ball of his heel

like a basalt egg.
His instep has shrunk
cold as a swan’s foot
or a wet swamp root.

His hips are the ridge
and purse of a mussel,
his spine an eel arrested
under a glisten of mud.

The head lifts,
the chin is a visor
raised above the vent
of his slashed throat

that has tanned and toughened.
The cured wound
opens inwards to a dark
elderberry place.

Who will say ‘corpse’
to his vivid cast?
Who will say ‘body’
to his opaque repose?

And his rusted hair,
a mat unlikely
as a foetus’s.
I first saw his twisted face

in a photograph,
a head and shoulder
out of the peat,
bruised like a forceps baby,

but now he lies
perfected in my memory,
down to the red horn
of his nails,

hung in the scales
with beauty and atrocity:
with the Dying Gaul
too strictly compassed

on his shield,
with the actual weight
of each hooded victim,
slashed and dumped.

Seamus Heaney

Digging through the past and digging at the thing, a body almost lovingly rendered, made alive on the tongue, looking inward and trying to look forward.

Wikipedia’s Grauballe Man page.

Tags: , , , , ,

Categories: Art, Current Events, Poetry

Author:chr1

An independent blogger seeking to discuss deeply while keeping an open mind. I'm mostly on the right, but living in Seattle I have to think about what that means on a daily basis. I like to read philosophy.

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One Comment on “Saturday Poem By Seamus Heaney-R.I.P: ‘The Grauballe Man’”

  1. August 31, 2013 at 10:15 am #

    Reblogged this on yasniger and commented:
    A tribute well deserved

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