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Friday, 30 August 2013

"Chunkymark On Seamus Heaney"

"The Artist's Win Out Today"

From the Republic of Conscience 
by Seamus Heaney

When I landed in the republic of conscience

it was so noiseless when the engines stopped
I could hear a curlew high above the runway.
At immigration, the clerk was an old man
who produced a wallet from his homespun coat
and showed me a photograph of my grandfather.
The woman in customs asked me to declare
the words of our traditional cures and charms
to heal dumbness and avert the evil eye.
No porters. No interpreter. No taxi.
You carried your own burden and very soon
your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.
Fog is a dreaded omen there but lightning
spells universal good and parents hang
swaddled infants in trees during thunderstorms.
Salt is their precious mineral. And seashells
are held to the ear during births and funerals.
The base of all inks and pigments is seawater.
Their sacred symbol is a stylized boat.
The sail is an ear, the mast a sloping pen,
the hull a mouth-shape, the keel an open eye.
At their inauguration, public leaders
must swear to uphold unwritten law and weep
to atone for their presumption to hold office –
and to affirm their faith that all life sprang
from salt in tears which the sky-god wept
after he dreamt his solitude was endless.
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs 
woman having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.


  1. The "not for publication" comment, and one that I recall from a couple of years ago....With all due respect to you, and yours....HOW THE F*CK do you expect anything to change via silence?

    Speak out, or shut the F*ck up for Christ's sake....As much as I can understand your quandary and fear, NOTHING IS ACHIEVED BY SILENCE, OTHER THAN SILENCE....And other than the fear that already existed, what is there to fear? You have already lived that fear, and survived, harden the fu*k up and tell your story, or let it eat you away. That is the best advice I can offer from my 50 years as a human being!

    Nevertheless, you must walk your own path in life.

    1. Simply....You can choose to be a victim....or a hero!