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Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Poetry Stylings

One of my most treasured books is Seamus Heaney's "Opened Ground - Selected Poems 1966-1996". I got it when I took Irish Literature at Oxford, so it's befitting for St. Patrick's Day. Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Seamus Heaney is incredibly brilliant with the English language, and he combines words in very satisfying ways. His scansion is awesome! I'm jealous now of all the Butterfield kids who took Peggy O'Brien's class 1st semester freshmen year, and got to go see him read from his translation of "Beowulf".

Well, it's not quite meeting him, BUT

When I was in Ireland, I saw a bog mummy at the National Museum, just like the one from his poem:

"Bog Queen"

I lay waiting
Between turf-face and demesne wall,
Between Heathery levels
And glass-toothed stone.

My body was Braille
For the creeping influences:
Dawn suns groped over my head
And cooled at my feet,

Through my fabrics and skins
The seeps of winter
Digested me,
The illiterate roots

Pondered and died
In the cavings
Of stomach and socket.
I lay waiting

On the gravel bottom,
My brain darkening,
A jar of spawn
Fermenting underground

Dreams of Baltic amber.
Bruised berries under my nails,
The vital hoard reducing
In the crock of the pelvis.

My diadem grew carious,
Gemstones dropped
In the peat floe
Like the bearings of history.

My sash was a black glacier
Wrinkling, dyed weaves
And phoenician stichwork
Retted on my breasts'

Soft moraines.
I knew winter cold
Like the nuzzle of fjords
At my thighs -

The soaked fledge, the heavy
Swaddle of hides.
my skull hibernated
in the wet nest of my hair.

Which they robbed.
I was barbered
And stripped
By a turfcutter's spade

Who veiled me again
And packed coomb softly
Between the stone jambs
At my head and my feet.

Till a peer's wife bribed him.
The plait of my hair,
A slimy birth-cord
Of bog had been cut

And I rose from the dark,
Hacked bone, skull-ware,
Frayed stitches, tufts,
Small gleams on the bank

Yeah.. the mummy was pretty gross. They kept it at the center of a spiraled corridor, so there was no way you could see it accidentally. Nothing says Happy St. Patrick's day like a mummy, huh? And what's up with that lady who wanted to own the 2000 year old bog-mummy hair? Gross!

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