Words for Wednesday ~ The Annals Say

It may be Wordless Wednesday, but it’s also Seamus Heaney’s birthday, and that deserves just a few words. His, mostly.

Seamus may well be my favorite poet. I’ve seen him read three times, and every time was memorable, but possibly most memorable was one evening at Boston College, in a high-ceilinged hall, when he read this poem, and conjured with words that ship in the air, sailing over our heads.


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 the 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 marvellous as he had known it.

– Seamus Heaney, Lightenings