October 5, 1995
Web posted at: 2:10 p.m. EDT (1810 GMT)
STOCKHOLM, Sweden -- The following poems are by Irish poet Seamus Heaney. The Swedish Academy cited these when awarding Heaney the 1995 Nobel Prize for literature.
"Lightenings viii," from his 1991 collection, "Seeing Things"
The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air.
The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,
A crewman shinned and grappled down a rope
And struggled to release it. But in vain.
`This man can't bear our life here and will drown,'
The abbot said, `Unless we help him.' So
They did, the freed ship sailed and the man climbed back
Out of the marvelous as he had known it.
"The Wishing Tree," from his 1987 collection, "The Haw Lantern"
I thought of her as the wishing tree that died
And saw it lifted, root and branch, to heaven,
Trailing a shower of all that had been driven
Need by need by need into its hale
Sap-wood and bark: coin and pin and nail
Came streaming from it like a comet-tail
New-minted and dissolved. I had a vision
Of an airy branch-head rising through damp cloud,
Of turned-up faces where the tree had stood.
"Oracle," from the 1972 collection, "Wintering Out"
Hide in the hollow trunk
of the willow tree,
its listening familiar,
until, as usual, they
cuckoo your name
across the fields.
You can hear them
draw the poles of stiles
as they approach
calling you out:
small mouth and ear
in a woody cleft,
lobe and larynx
of the mossy places.
"Night Drive," from the 1969 collection "Door into the Dark"
The smells of ordinariness
Were new on the night drive through France:
Rain and hay and woods on the air
Made warm draughts in the open car.
Signposts whitened relentlessly.
Montreuil, Abbeville, Beauvais
Were promised, promised, came and went,
Each place granting its name's fulfillment.
A combine groaning its way late
Bled seeds across its work-light.
A forest fire smoldered out.
One by one small cafes shut.
I thought of you continuously
A thousand miles south where Italy
Laid its loin to France on the darkened sphere.
Your ordinariness was renewed there.