Seamus Heaney se nuutste is op pad …

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Dit wil voorkom asof ons kan begin lippe lek vir Human Chain, Seamus Heaney se bundel wat pas in Engeland verskyn het. In ‘n onlangse resensie in The Telegraph  word daar soos volg na dié bundel verwys: “In this brave and unsentimental book, continuity and finality compete for prominence. The title poem concerns itself with ‘A letting go which will not come again. Or it will, once. And for all’ as Heaney, in a masterful elision of image and memory, compares aid workers passing bags of meal ‘hand to hand / In close up’ to his experience of heaving sacks of grain on to a trailer.”

Dit wil dus voorkom asof Heaney hom weereens op bekende terrein begeef, naamlik die landelike omgewing met ‘n sterk aardsgerigte fokus op alledaagse  gegewe waardeur telkens ‘n bepaalde herinnering of sensasie losgedig word. Volgens The Telegraph se bespreking het heelwat van die gedigte te make met die beroerte wat heaney in 2006 gehad het: This focus on letting go and last things might be traced back to the stroke Heaney suffered in Donegal in 2006. The poems ‘Miracle‘ and ‘Chanson d’Aventure‘ deal with its immediate aftermath. ‘Miracle‘ sees him crediting ‘those ones who had known him all along’ for carrying him to the ambulance ‘their shoulders numb, the ache and stoop deeplocked’. ‘Chanson d’Aventure‘ (the title a genre of medieval poetry, literally a ‘song of adventure’) reminds us of the enviable tendresse with which Heaney has often addressed his wife in his verse. We learn how in the ambulance she occupied the nurse’s ‘vacated corner seat’, and how their ‘eyebeams threaded laser-fast’. Heaney goes on to declare ‘We might, O my love, have quoted Donne/On love on hold, body and soul apart’.”

En natuurlik staan die hele kwessie van veroudering en gepaardgaande aftakeling sentraal in dié gedigte. Daarom kan ek nie anders as om hierdie Nuuswekker af te sluit met die slotopmerkings van die genoemde bespreking nie: “Human Chain gives us a poet facing the onset of old age and yet there is no sense of diminishment in the work: heart and intellect are allied and equally industrious. Present are the skilled observation and invocation that have made Heaney the foremost poet of his generation and, for some, the age. His use of autobiographical detail and generous contextualisation of the people, places and events in his poems invites a unique attachment in his readers. Those who have followed Heaney from college sick bay to wedding day, from boyhood remembered into fatherhood and now grandfatherhood, will hope these are simply late and not last poems.”

Plaaslik behoort Human Chain, wat deur Faber & Faber uitgegee word, darem teen einde Oktober in die boekwinkels beskikbaar te wees; met ‘n verwagte verkoopsprys van rondom R200. Die ideale kersgeskenk vir ‘n poësieliefhebber … Of wat praat ek nou?!

Vir jou leesplesier plaas ek sy beroemde gedig, “Digging“, onder aan die Nuuswekker.

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Vaoggend is daar twee nuwe bydraes in die Brieweboks: Stephanie Nieuwoudt se stuk oor volgende Vrydagaand se Kollokwium op Stellenbosch wat gister in Die Burger verskyn het, en Rustum Kozain se reaksie op die kritiek jeens die komitee wat besluit het om vanjaar nie die Ingrid Jonker-prys toe te ken nie. Onder die vaste bloggers is daar ‘n nuwe bydrae deur Jo Prins waaraan jy jou kan verlekker.

Ten slotte – vanaand word die wenner van die ATKV Woordveertjie vir poësie bekend gemaak. Soos julle weet bestaan die kortlys (in alfabatiese orde) uit: Johann de Lange, Gilbert Gibson en Joan Hambidge. Ons wens al drie kandidate voorspoed toe.

Geniet die naweek wat op hande is. Ons hervat weer Maandag.

Mooi bly.

LE

 

Digging

 
Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; as snug as a gun.

Under my window a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade,
Just like his old man.

My grandfather could cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away
Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, digging down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mold, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

© Seamus Heaney  (Uit: Death of a Naturalist, 1966: Faber & Faber)

 

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