Mudcat Café message #3554655 The Mudcat Café TM
Thread #152057   Message #3554655
Posted By: GUEST,Blandiver
31-Aug-13 - 04:21 AM
Thread Name: Seamus Heaney - your favourite poem
Subject: RE: Seamus Heaney - your favourite poem
His translation of Buile Shuibhne (Sweeney Astray, 1983) has been a favourite of mine these past 30 years. He revisited the theme the following year in his collection Station Island with the mighty 'Sweeney Redivivus' which features this:

The First Kingdom

The royal roads were cow paths.
The queen mother hunkered on a stool
and played the harpstrings of milk
into a wooden pail.
With seasoned sticks the nobles
lorded it over the hindquarters of cattle.

Units of measurement were pondered
by the cartful, barrowful and bucketful.
Time was a backward rote of names and mishaps,
bad harvests, fires, unfair settlements,
deaths in floods, murders and miscarriages.

And if my right to it all came only
by their acclamation, what was it worth?
I blew hot and blew cold.
They were two-faced and accommodating.
And seed, breed and generation still
they are holding on, every bit
as pious and exacting and demeaned.