“My last things will be the first things slipping from me”; RIP Seamus Heaney

Maria Popova has put together a beautiful tribute to Seamus Heaney, and I cannot improve upon her work and Seamus Heaney’s own words. However, I can recommend that you seek out one of his books as soon as you can. I like to read the poems in spring, when it’s lightly raining and I can imagine that the earth and the grass I smell are really in Ireland.

This week, in honor of Mr. Heaney, I’m reading his poem “Mint,” from The Spirit Level (1996), included in the collection Opened Ground. It’s not about the fresh smell of the herb, or the glorious color; this mint, in the speaker’s childhood yard, appears “like a clump of small dusty nettles” (l. 1). From this opening, the speaker projects into the future; these early memories will be the last to slip away from him at the end of his life. The turn into the final stanza is so unexpected — I hope you’ll read it for yourself.

I’m so grateful that poets and poetry are part of our world.

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