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Best Famous Seamus Heaney Poems

Here is a collection of the all-time best famous Seamus Heaney poems. This is a select list of the best famous Seamus Heaney poetry. Reading, writing, and enjoying famous Seamus Heaney poetry (as well as classical and contemporary poems) is a great past time. These top poems are the best examples of Seamus Heaney poems.

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Written by Seamus Heaney |

The Harvest Bow

 As you plaited the harvest bow
You implicated the mellowed silence in you
In wheat that does not rust
But brightens as it tightens twist by twist
Into a knowable corona,
A throwaway love-knot of straw.
Hands that aged round ashplants and cane sticks And lapped the spurs on a lifetime of game cocks Harked to their gift and worked with fine intent Until your fingers moved somnambulant: I tell and finger it like braille, Gleaning the unsaid off the palpable, And if I spy into its golden loops I see us walk between the railway slopes Into an evening of long grass and midges, Blue smoke straight up, old beds and ploughs in hedges, An auction notice on an outhouse wall-- You with a harvest bow in your lapel, Me with the fishing rod, already homesick For the big lift of these evenings, as your stick Whacking the tips off weeds and bushes Beats out of time, and beats, but flushes Nothing: that original townland Still tongue-tied in the straw tied by your hand.
The end of art is peace Could be the motto of this frail device That I have pinned up on our deal dresser-- Like a drawn snare Slipped lately by the spirit of the corn Yet burnished by its passage, and still warm.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pin rest; snug as a gun.
Under my window, a clean rasping sound When the spade sinks into gravelly ground: My father, digging.
I look down Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds Bends low, comes up twenty years away Stooping in rhythm through potato drills Where he was digging.
The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep To scatter new potatoes that we picked, Loving their cool hardness in our hands.
By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.
My grandfather cut more turf in a day Than any other man on Toner's bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle Corked sloppily with paper.
He straightened up To drink it, then fell to right away Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods Over his shoulder, going down and down For the good turf.
The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I've no spade to follow men like them.
Between my finger and my thumb The squat pen rests.
I'll dig with it.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 for T.
Flanagan We have no prairies To slice a big sun at evening-- Everywhere the eye concedes to Encrouching horizon, Is wooed into the cyclops' eye Of a tarn.
Our unfenced country Is bog that keeps crusting Between the sights of the sun.
They've taken the skeleton Of the Great Irish Elk Out of the peat, set it up An astounding crate full of air.
Butter sunk under More than a hundred years Was recovered salty and white.
The ground itself is kind, black butter Melting and opening underfoot, Missing its last definition By millions of years.
They'll never dig coal here, Only the waterlogged trunks Of great firs, soft as pulp.
Our pioneers keep striking Inwards and downwards, Every layer they strip Seems camped on before.
The bogholes might be Atlantic seepage.
The wet centre is bottomless.

More great poems below...

Written by Seamus Heaney |

The Otter

 When you plunged
The light of Tuscany wavered
And swung through the pool
From top to bottom.
I loved your wet head and smashing crawl, Your fine swimmer's back and shoulders Surfacing and surfacing again This year and every year since.
I sat dry-throated on the warm stones.
You were beyond me.
The mellowed clarities, the grape-deep air Thinned and disappointed.
Thank God for the slow loadening, When I hold you now We are close and deep As the atmosphere on water.
My two hands are plumbed water.
You are my palpable, lithe Otter of memory In the pool of the moment, Turning to swim on your back, Each silent, thigh-shaking kick Re-tilting the light, Heaving the cool at your neck.
And suddenly you're out, Back again, intent as ever, Heavy and frisky in your freshened pelt, Printing the stones.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 There, in the corner, staring at his drink.
The cap juts like a gantry's crossbeam, Cowling plated forehead and sledgehead jaw.
Speech is clamped in the lips' vice.
That fist would drop a hammer on a Catholic- Oh yes, that kind of thing could start again; The only Roman collar he tolerates Smiles all round his sleek pint of porter.
Mosaic imperatives bang home like rivets; God is a foreman with certain definite views Who orders life in shifts of work and leisure.
A factory horn will blare the Resurrection.
He sits, strong and blunt as a Celtic cross, Clearly used to silence and an armchair: Tonight the wife and children will be quiet At slammed door and smoker's cough in the hall.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 It is December in Wicklow:
Alders dripping, birches
Inheriting the last light,
The ash tree cold to look at.
A comet that was lost Should be visible at sunset, Those million tons of light Like a glimmer of haws and rose-hips, And I sometimes see a falling star.
If I could come on meteorite! Instead I walk through damp leaves, Husks, the spent flukes of autumn, Imagining a hero On some muddy compound, His gift like a slingstone Whirled for the desperate.
How did I end up like this? I often think of my friends' Beautiful prismatic counselling And the anvil brains of some who hate me As I sit weighing and weighing My responsible tristia.
For what? For the ear? For the people? For what is said behind-backs? Rain comes down through the alders, Its low conductive voices Mutter about let-downs and erosions And yet each drop recalls The diamond absolutes.
I am neither internee nor informer; An inner ?migr?, grown long-haired And thoughtful; a wood-kerne Escaped from the massacre, Taking protective colouring From bole and bark, feeling Every wind that blows; Who, blowing up these sparks For their meagre heat, have missed The once-in-a-lifetime portent, The comet's pulsing rose.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 A rowan like a lipsticked girl.
Between the by-road and the main road Alder trees at a wet and dripping distance Stand off among the rushes.
There are the mud-flowers of dialect And the immortelles of perfect pitch And that moment when the bird sings very close To the music of what happens.

Written by Seamus Heaney |

Rite of Spring

 So winter closed its fist
And got it stuck in the pump.
The plunger froze up a lump In its throat, ice founding itself Upon iron.
The handle Paralysed at an angle.
Then the twisting of wheat straw into ropes, lapping them tight Round stem and snout, then a light That sent the pump up in a flame It cooled, we lifted her latch, Her entrance was wet, and she came.

Written by Seamus Heaney |

Strange Fruit

 Here is the girl's head like an exhumed gourd.
Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth.
They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair And made an exhibition of its coil, Let the air at her leathery beauty.
Pash of tallow, perishable treasure: Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod, Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings.
Diodorus Siculus confessed His gradual ease with the likes of this: Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible Beheaded girl, outstaring axe And beatification, outstaring What had begun to feel like reverence.

Written by Seamus Heaney |

Requiem for the Croppies

 The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley.
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp.
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching.
on the hike.
We found new tactics happening each day: We'd cut through reins and rider with the pike And stampede cattle into infantry, Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
on Vinegar Hill.
the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin And in August.
the barley grew up out of our grave.

Written by Seamus Heaney |

Mid-Term Break

 I sat all morning in the college sick bay
Counting bells knelling classes to a close.
At two o'clock our neighbors drove me home.
In the porch I met my father crying-- He had always taken funerals in his stride-- And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.
The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram When I came in, and I was embarrassed By old men standing up to shake my hand And tell me they were "sorry for my trouble," Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest, Away at school, as my mother held my hand In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.
At ten o'clock the ambulance arrived With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.
Next morning I went up into the room.
Snowdrops And candles soothed the bedside; I saw him For the first time in six weeks.
Paler now, Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple, He lay in the four foot box as in his cot.
No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.
A four foot box, a foot for every year.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 Fishermen at Ballyshannon
Netted an infant last night
Along with the salmon.
An illegitimate spawning, A small one thrown back To the waters.
But I'm sure As she stood in the shallows Ducking him tenderly Till the frozen knobs of her wrists Were dead as the gravel, He was a minnow with hooks Tearing her open.
She waded in under The sign of the cross.
He was hauled in with the fish.
Now limbo will be A cold glitter of souls Through some far briny zone.
Even Christ's palms, unhealed, Smart and cannot fish there.

Written by Seamus Heaney |

Twice Shy

 Her scarf a la Bardot, 
In suede flats for the walk, 
She came with me one evening
For air and friendly talk.
We crossed the quiet river, Took the embankment walk.
Traffic holding its breath, Sky a tense diaphragm: Dusk hung like a backcloth That shook where a swan swam, Tremulous as a hawk Hanging deadly, calm.
A vacuum of need Collapsed each hunting heart But tremulously we held As hawk and prey apart, Preserved classic decorum, Deployed our talk with art.
Our Juvenilia Had taught us both to wait, Not to publish feeling And regret it all too late - Mushroom loves already Had puffed and burst in hate.
So, chary and excited, As a thrush linked on a hawk, We thrilled to the March twilight With nervous childish talk: Still waters running deep Along the embankment walk.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 My "place of clear water,"
the first hill in the world
where springs washed into
the shiny grass

and darkened cobbles
in the bed of the lane.
Anahorish, soft gradient of consonant, vowel-meadow, after-image of lamps swung through the yards on winter evenings.
With pails and barrows those mound-dwellers go waist-deep in mist to break the light ice at wells and dunghills.

Written by Seamus Heaney |


 Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for Picking.
Then red ones inked up and that hunger Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills We trekked and picked until the cans were full Until the tinkling bottom had been covered With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned Like a plate of eyes.
Our hands were peppered With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur, A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too.
Once off the bush The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying.
It wasn't fair That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.