The Poet and the Piper
Exquisite blend of poetry and music - recommended
Seamus Heaney - words
Liam O’Flynn - Uilleann Pipes, whistle
Rod McVey - harmonium
Stephen Cooney - guitar
Claddagh Records. 2003.
Some fine music, but Heany’s poetry ~ 😛 ~ not for me, nor are dickie bows or string ties
Some fine pipe and whistle playing by Liam, but dear ol’ Seamus Heaney isn’t among my large list of appreciated poets. I find his way with words too pretentious and florid, with Classical references dropped here and there, like Troy and Carthage, while serving no useful purpose in the poem. While he chooses natural and earthy things for his subject, his treatment of those subjects does not come off naturally. Maybe if he bothered to go out in the fields with his da and dig spuds, and get muddy, he’d have a better hand on the subject matter, and would be less likely to drop clumsy references in among the comic topiary and top heavy hybrid tea roses of his prose…
But, hey, some folks like it that way, laid on thick. While he didn’t necessarily follow what he preached, I’m with Ezra Pound on preferring things handled in more economic ways, along with the Imagists, Basho, Han Shan, Frost, Dickinson, Yeats, Williams, Rich - too many to mention… And I also appreciate the raw, like Bukowski, and the primitive…
However, in his passing, I must confess there are those poems and lines that dig deep, that I have an affection, a respect, and an appreciation for…
R.I.P… I will be spending more time with your words in seeking a better understanding. I have the dirt beneath the fingernails that gives me at least a similar history toward achieving that end…
“Blackberry Picking” ~ 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.
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We make pies and crumbles, sometimes mixed them in with rhubarb, have even made an ice cream. One tale is that it’s the Pookah who cause that mold, sitting on them and doing #2… This year, around here, we had hopes, but the berries are not good, misshapen, not ripe, strange. We’ve been going out regularly with the hopes of filling buckets, freezing some, baking with those we don’t just snack on. Blessing and damnation is the blackberry briar… Those few blackberries that go off, the birds get them or the mice, or they just moulder into the earth, as do we all in the end, one way or another…