Seamus Heaney, “Leavings”

poetry

A soft whoosh, the sunset blaze
of straw on blackened stubble,
a thatch-deep, freshening
barbarous crimson burn –

I rode down England
as they fired the crop
that was the leavings of a crop,
the smashed tow-coloured barley,

down from Ely’s Lady Chapel,
the sweet tenor Latin
forever banished,
the sumptuous windows

threshed clear by Thomas Cromwell.
Which circle does he tread,
scalding on cobbles,
each one a broken statue’s head?

After midnight, after summer,
to walk in a sparking field,
to smell dew and ashes
and start Will Brangwen’s ghost

from the hot soot –
a breaking sheaf of light,
abroad in the hiss
and clash of stooking.

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Seamus Heaney, “The Harvest Bow”

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