Such sorrow at the passing of our laureate son. On a day when my favorite weaver of words is mourned I myself can hardly find one. I took a walk to the sea and sat with poems. Soothed by words carried on wind while waves rolled on rocks "came dazzling around, into the rocks, came glinting, sifting from the Americas" and the sun dipped slowly and reliably in it's arc.
I can't exactly recall the first time I read Heaney but I know as the years passed away in America I would find myself intermittently lost in one of his poems thinking of home. Hearing the "squelch and slap of soggy peat" and the shovel slice or boots stick into the wet sod earth. The land and the bogs that are as much a part of us and this country as poetry itself. The land, "the ground itself is kind, black butter" to which he goes and to which we all will follow.
Simple things like the smell of summer hay, the lift of a door latch or gathering frogspawn in a jar. There are few and hardly none greater that can paint with words the essence of what is to be human, never mind Irish. We cannot know the depth of loss to Irish culture and poetry in general because the only man who could describe it with exquisite honesty is the man we've lost. We are left instead with what he gave before he took his leave. We are left to remember in his own words what necessary poetry always does: "to touch the base of our sympathetic nature while taking in at the same time the unsympathetic reality of the world to which that nature is constantly exposed. The form of the poem in other words is crucial to poetry's power to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry's credit. The power that is to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of it's rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it".
Seamus Heaney will always be missed by the people of whom he wrote and came and to whom he touched deeply with his ability to write in an extraordinary way of the ordinariness and vulnerability of us all as we live our lives.
And so I sat there and pondered the question he posed, "Did sea define the land or land the sea?"