So sad to hear yesterday of the death of one of my favourite poets, Seamus Heaney.
Strangely I was only reading his poems the day before he died and went to bed with the words of one of them going round and round in my head.
I like his poems as they are never pretentious. The images are always stark and the language simple. That is how I try to write my own poems – not sure if I succeed!
Heaney believed in the power of poetry to change the world.
He refused the offer to become poet laureate after Ted Hughes, a dear friend of his, died.
My favourite Heaney poem is Blackberry Picking. It reminds me of going black berrying with my mum in the fields near our house.
RIP Seamus, your poems will endure forever.
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.