Earlier this morning in the wee wee hours, catching the wisp of an idea that had awakened me, I looked over from my desk and saw Ciaran Carson’s translation of “The Tain,” Ireland’s greatest epic. In it, time and again, the legendary, mythical hero of Ireland battles an invading army. He kept going.
In “Keeping Going,” one of the poems in “The Spirit Level,” Seamus Heaney gave us that heroic spirit in the form of an uncomplicated farmer. It is a heartbreaking poem about two brothers – one a farmer, the other destined to be a poet – from a farm in Northern Ireland in the middle of the last century. For how many decades did one brother till and toil there in the soil? For how many decades did the poet brother pick up his pen?
You can see quite clearly the different callings of the two brothers. You can see quite clearly, as well, that stamina and courage are required to follow one’s calling, whatever that calling may be.
Seamus Heaney, poet, Nobel Laureate, has passed on (April 13, 1939-August 30, 2013) and we here must keep going. We must husband our stamina, gather our courage, and keep going.
May we hear his voice deep from “The Spirit Level.”
Barbara Butler McCoy, c. 2013
[[Photo: “After Heaney’s ‘A Brigid’s Girdle'”, Barbara Butler McCoy, 2013]]