Friday, March 19, 2010

"Ocarina Earth" - Seamus Heaney

March 19th, an after glow of Saint Patrick’s Day.  
A reason to talk about Seamus Heaney’s poetry.

Seeing Things,  a book of poems published by Seamus Heaney in 1991 includes forty-eight poems in suite of poems called Squarings

A suite of poems, each 12 lines long– 4 stanzas of 3 lines each, titled  i to xlviii are  bound into an elegant poetic form, almost geometrical in its alignment.  

In Seamus Heaney’s words quoted from the book here: “The 12-line form seemed arbitrary but it seemed to get me places swiftly. So I went with it, a sort of music of the arbitrary that’s unpredictable, and can still up and catch a glimpse of the subject out of the blue”.

Squarings has four parts, each made of 12 poems. The title of this suite evokes the square, a structure of balance and even planes and its meaning is suggested by Seamus Heaney in iii:

“Squarings? In the game of marbles, squarings
Were all those anglings, aimings, feints and squints
You were allowed before you’d shoot”

The first part
Squarings is Lightenings .

The poems in this  group revolve around major themes such as: transparency, light dissociated in shards of brightness and movement, echoes spreading out through clay flutes towards sea and air and a sustained effort of poetic levitation that defines and destroys roofs – poetic ones, that is.

Here us a quote from  v:

"High on a windblown hedge. Ocarina earth.
Three listening posts up on a some hard-baked tier
Above the resonating atmosphere."

The second part of Squarings is Settings

This group of poems is a foray into memory, in which images of an early childhood (the father, the surrounding universe) evolve in effigies of places and sensations from golden, angelic hues to a carmine red zone, filled with heat and lava, a mini-inferno, and then again towards an  equilibrium of aer and water in a continuous thinning of borders. 

From xi:

"Air and ocean known as antecedents
Of each other. In opposition with
Ominipresence, equilibrium, brim. "

The third part of Squarings is Crossings.

The poems in this group talk of a metamorphosis, of a rebirth, of entrance and exit into deep corridors inside one’s psyche, corridors explored with a sense of profound loss, on a realm close to the Styx where we grope in search of a ‘crossing’.

“Running water never disappointed.
Crossing water always furthered something.
Stepping stones were stations of the soul.”

The fourth and last part of Squarings gives its title to the entire cycle of poems. 

This group holds poems which gleam under a starry sky and in which the haunting bogland appears, a fixed axis in a shifting universe.

From xliv :

"All gone into the world of light? Perhaps
As we read the line sheer forms do crowd
The starry vestibule."

A closing note.

The poems in Squarings, (and most of Seamus Heaney’s poetry for that matter) bring forth a poignant, deep-seated lyricism that is the hallmark of memorable poetry.

There are unique traits to Seamus Heaney’s unconventional lyricism.

A brilliance of light, congealed and tempered, as if balanced on square angles that face off the distant seas and vaporous stars. 

A haunting bogland of stubborn childhood memories, and the equanimity of restrained sorrow, that gives birth to poetry as a second life.


Jesse P said...

Seamus Heaney is one of the greatest poets of all time. He not only used interesting words in his poem, but makes them flow together. In the poem 'Aerodrome' he overlaps the sparrows, the good, and the bomber, a symbol of war and destruction flawlessly. It is really interesting that almost all of his poems reflect his childhood and his father. It would be great if everyone could have this kind of influence in thier lives.

Irina said...

Seamus Heaney is truly one of the greatest poets of all times -I couldn't agree more. His poetry, profound and balanced, creative and solemn, reminds me of an infinite crystal which lights up the universe in a sweeping movement.

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