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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