Saturday, September 8, 2012

"A Shiver" by Seamus Heaney

A Shiver

The way you had to stand to swing the sledge,
Your two knees locked, your lower back shock-fast
As shields in a testudo, spine and waist
A pivot for the tight-braced, tilting rib-cage;
The way its iron head planted the sledge
Unyieldingly as a club-footed last;
The way you had to heft and then half-rest
Its gathered force like a long-nursed rage
About to be let fly: does it do you good
To have known it in your bones, directable,
Withholdable at will,
A first blow that could make air of a wall,
A last one so unanswerably landed
The staked earth quailed and shivered in the handle?

Source of the text - Seamus Heaney, District and Circle.  London: Faber & Faber Limited, 2006, p. 5.

TJB: We get action first in this Italian sonnet with Anglo-Saxon stamp, then we question, does it all matter? Doesn’t everything, to Heaney?

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