What Heaney Said
Between my finger and my thumb, the squat pen rests, snug as a gun.
The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley—
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp—
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people, hardly marching—on the hike—
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until, on Vinegar Hill, the fatal conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August the barley grew up out of the grave.
By God the old man could handle a spade.
Between his finger and his thumb the squat pen rested, snug as a gun.
Between my finger and my thumb the propped pen shoots, like a passed on baton.
The pockets of our great fathers were once full of barley;
Ours are brimming with grains, engrained in us these seeds planted bore the first fruits of freedom.
We move quick and sudden in our own country, we still move quick and suddenly—
The priest no longer lays behind anything or anyone,
We've rescued the tramps with our marches,
Marching we cut through the reins and the reign that ploughed silence from infancy.
Though Vinegar Hill brought fatal conclave,
And the tiger the Celts reared met its own grave,
We can no longer be buried without shroud or coffin.
No more the Croppies' or Barley grown graves,
Just people, just fighters.
Fathers and Mothers with names.
Part of the Coole Park Poetry Series, produced with Druid and shot at Coole Park as part of DruidGregory.
"What Heaney Said" by FeliSpeaks. Reproduced with permission of the author. Includes excerpts from "Requiem for the Croppies" by Seamus Heaney, from New Selected Poems 1966-1987, published by Faber and Faber, and "Digging" by Seamus Heaney, from Death of a Naturalist, published by Faber and Faber.