And I Will Give You Ireland

Long ago, I wrote a song called “I Will Give You Ireland.” It was an impossible fairy tale, a Maxfield Parrish painting of luminous idealistic nonsense. Image
I still love Ireland in that way: with blinders on; with an infatuation that puts Her on a pedestal and doesn’t let Her breathe. My memories are those of a kid- of golden light on grey stones and an impossible green that brought tears to my eyes… of friendly, warm people everywhere we went, who offered us hospitality…of music, and of magic. That was my Ireland. She is magnificent…but I know it’s not a whole picture.
So in antidote, here is Seamus Heaney – often too gritty for my taste, I have still always been drawn to his work.
The big lesson that came to me today is about loving a whole human being, with his flaws. About trusting him, and remembering to see the good also, even in the midst of darker places. It is about loving myself, too, shadow and all. What a gift. 
I hope one day to see the places of my childhood as a whole and love them even more deeply with the flaws – even the flaws that crack my heart open. 
 
Beannacht Lá Fhéile Padraig!
 
From Lightenings by Seamus Heaney
 
 
Shifting brilliancies. Then winter light 
In a doorway, and on the stone doorstep 
A beggar shivering in silhouette. 
 
So the particular judgement might be set: 
Bare wallstead and a cold hearth rained into- 
Bright puddle where the soul-free cloud-life roams. 
 
And after the commanded journey, what? 
Nothing magnificent, nothing unknown. 
A gazing out from far away, alone. 
 
And it is not particular at all, 
Just old truth dawning: there is no next-time-round. 
Unroofed scope. Knowledge-freshening wind. 
 
VI 
 
Once, as a child, out in a field of sheep, 
Thomas Hardy pretended to be dead 
And lay down flat among their dainty shins. 
 
In that sniffed-at, bleated-into, grassy space 
He experimented with infinity. 
His small cool brow was like an anvil waiting 
 
For sky to make it sing the prefect pitch 
Of his dumb being, and that stir he caused 
In the fleece-hustle was the original 
 
Of a ripple that would travel eighty years 
Outward from there, to be the same ripple 
Inside him at its last circumference. 
 
VII 
 
(I misremembered. He went down on all fours, 
Florence Emily says, crossing a ewe-leaze. 
Hardy sought the creatures face to face, 
 
Their witless eyes and liability 
To panic made him feel less alone, 
Made proleptic sorrow stand a moment 
 
Over him, perfectly known and sure. 
And then the flock’s dismay went swimming on 
Into the blinks and murmurs and deflections 
 
He’d know at parties in renowned old age 
When sometimes he imagined himself a ghost 
And circulated with that new perspective.) 
 
VIII 
 
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. 
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