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From the Frontier of Writing -- Seamus Heaney

Guest poem submitted by Janice:
(Poem #1806) From the Frontier of Writing
 The tightness and the nilness round that space
 when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect
 its make and number and, as one bends his face

 towards your window, you catch sight of more
 on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent
 down cradled guns that hold you under cover

 and everything is pure interrogation
 until a rifle motions and you move
 with guarded unconcerned acceleration --

 a little emptier, a little spent
 as always by that quiver in the self,
 subjugated, yes, and obedient.

 So you drive on to the frontier of writing
 where it happens again. The guns on tripods;
 the sergeant with his on-off mike repeating

 data about you, waiting for the squawk
 of clearance; the marksman training down
 out of the sun upon you like a hawk.

 And suddenly you're through, arraigned yet freed,
 as if you'd passed from behind a waterfall
 on the black current of a tarmac road

 past armor-plated vehicles, out between
 the posted soldiers flowing and receding
 like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.
-- Seamus Heaney
Another favourite of mine. Exquisity Heaney: compact, compressed,
beautifully simple yet spiralling with meaning upon meaning. Here an
unfortunately commonplace event - a road check - is compared to the act of
writing, or perhaps the struggle of the act of writing. Again fraught with
tension, "pure interrogation", the poem captures the mood, the silent
watchfulness of a politically unstable area. There are various
interpretations of this poem and I personally find it difficult to pinpoint
what the Frontier of Writing is -- is it a space (mental or physical), an
idea or the act of writing itself? When I reach the last few lines however,
it doesn't even seem to matter -- "out between / the posted soldiers flowing
and receding / like tree shadows into the polished windscreen". It is an
image that is startling and stays with me.

Hope you enjoy it!

529 comments: ( or Leave a comment )

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Unknown said...

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