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Seamus Heaney

Poet Seamus Heaney, who has died aged 74

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013), whom Robert Lowell and others have called the most important Irish poet since William Butler Yeats, died on Friday, August 30, 2013 in Dublin. Irish prime minister Enda Kenny said the poet's death had brought "great sorrow to Ireland, to language and to literature." Heaney was the recipient of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature for what the Nobel committee deemed to be "works of lyrical beauty and ethical depth, which exalt everyday miracles and the living past." In its obituary The Independent described Heaney as "probably the best-known poet in the world" and the "greatest living poet" at the time of his death. And yet for all his popularity and star power, Heaney was the poet of peat bogs and the grubby, grimy things they preserve. (His best-known poems include "Bogland," "The Tollund Man," "Bog Oak," "Punishment," and "Digging." Even his birthplace sounds "peaty," as he was born in Mossbawn, a remote corner of Northern Ireland, symbolically placed "between the marks of English influence and the lure of the native experience, between the 'demesne' and the 'bog.'" The oldest child of a farmer and cattle dealer, Heaney grew up surrounded by family and friends "immersed in the rituals of rural Catholic life." In his highly original poetry he sought to find "images and symbols adequate to our predicament." And he spoke warmly about writing poetry as a master carpenter might speak fondly about building: of "summoning the energies of words," of "the actual pleasure of feeling something under your hand and growing" and of poems "full of voices, full of people." But he also mentioned his art helping him cope with the fear of a terrible silence that seems to have always haunted him. Heaney, an Ulsterman, was known for his poems about the "Troubles" of Northern Ireland, which were written in an earthy-but-lyrical Irish/English patois. And while England may have conquered and occupied Ireland, it seems Heaney may have returned the favor: when he turned 70 in 2009 it was announced that two-thirds of the poetry collections sold in the UK the previous year were his.

Bog Body - "The Adulteress"

Punishment
by Seamus Heaney

I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.

It blows her nipples
to amber beads,
it shakes the frail rigging
of her ribs.

I can see her drowned
body in the bog,
the weighing stone,
the floating rods and boughs.

Under which at first
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin:

her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn,
her blindfold a soiled bandage,
her noose a ring

to store
the memories of love.
Little adulteress,
before they punished you

you were flaxen-haired,
undernourished, and your
tar-black face was beautiful.
My poor scapegoat,

I almost love you
but would have cast, I know,
the stones of silence.
I am the artful voyeur

of your brain’s exposed
and darkened combs,
your muscles’ webbing
and all your numbered bones:

I who have stood dumb
when your betraying sisters,
cauled in tar,
wept by the railings,

who would connive
in civilized outrage
yet understand the exact
and tribal, intimate revenge.

(There is an Arabic translation of "Punishment" by the Palestinian poet Iqbal Tamimi, at the bottom of this page.)

The Forge
by Seamus Heaney

All I know is a door into the dark.
Outside, old axles and iron hoops rusting;
Inside, the hammered anvil’s short-pitched ring,
The unpredictable fantail of sparks
Or hiss when a new shoe toughens in water.
The anvil must be somewhere in the centre,
Horned as a unicorn, at one end and square,
Set there immoveable: an altar
Where he expends himself in shape and music.
Sometimes, leather-aproned, hairs in his nose,
He leans out on the jamb, recalls a clatter
Of hoofs where traffic is flashing in rows;
Then grunts and goes in, with a slam and flick
To beat real iron out, to work the bellows.

Personal Helicon
by Seamus Heaney

for Michael Longley

As a child, they could not keep me from wells
And old pumps with buckets and windlasses.
I loved the dark drop, the trapped sky, the smells
Of waterweed, fungus and dank moss.

One, in a brickyard, with a rotted board top.
I savoured the rich crash when a bucket
Plummeted down at the end of a rope.
So deep you saw no reflection in it.

A shallow one under a dry stone ditch
Fructified like any aquarium.
When you dragged out long roots from the soft mulch
A white face hovered over the bottom.

Others had echoes, gave back your own call
With a clean new music in it. And one
Was scaresome, for there, out of ferns and tall
Foxgloves, a rat slapped across my reflection.

Now, to pry into roots, to finger slime,
To stare, big-eyed Narcissus, into some spring
Is beneath all adult dignity. I rhyme
To see myself, to set the darkness echoing.

Night Drive
by Seamus Heaney

The smells of ordinariness
Were new on the night drive through France;
Rain and hay and woods on the air
Made warm draughts in the open car.

Signposts whitened relentlessly.
Montrueil, Abbéville, Beauvais
Were promised, promised, came and went,
Each place granting its name’s fulfilment.

A combine groaning its way late
Bled seeds across its work-light.
A forest fire smouldered out.
One by one small cafés shut.

I thought of you continuously
A thousand miles south where Italy
Laid its loin to France on the darkened sphere.
Your ordinariness was renewed there.

A Kite for Aibhín
by Seamus Heaney

after "L'Aquilone" by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912)

Air from another life and time and place,
Pale blue heavenly air is supporting
A white wing beating high against the breeze,

And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon
All of us there trooped out
Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,

I take my stand again, halt opposite
Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,
Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.

And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew,
Lifts itself, goes with the wind until
It rises to loud cheers from us below.

Rises, and my hand is like a spindle
Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower
Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher

The longing in the breast and planted feet
And gazing face and heart of the kite flier
Until string breaks and—separate, elate—

The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.

In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984
by Seamus Heaney

She taught me what her uncle once taught her:
How easily the biggest coal block split
If you got the grain and the hammer angled right.

The sound of that relaxed alluring blow
Its co-opted and obliterated echo,
Taught me to hit, taught me to loosen,

Taught me between the hammer and the block
To face the music. Teach me now to listen,
To strike it rich behind the linear black.

A cobble thrown a hundred years ago
Keeps coming at me, the first stone
Aimed at a great-grandmother's turncoat brow.
The pony jerks and the riot's on.
She's couched low in the trap
Running the gauntlet that first Sunday
Down the brae to Mass at a panicked gallop.
He whips on through the town to cries of 'Lundy!'

Call her 'The Convert.' 'The Exogamous Bride.'
Anyhow, it is a genre piece
Inherited on my mother's side
And mine to dispose with now she's gone.
Instead of silver and Victorian lace
the exonerating, exonerated stone.

Polished linoleum shone there. Brass taps shone.
The china cups were very white and big—
An unchipped set with sugar bowl and jug.
The kettle whistled. Sandwich and tea scone
Were present and correct. In case it run,
The butter must be kept out of the sun.
And don't be dropping crumbs. Don't tilt your chair.
Don't reach. Don't point. Don't make noise when you stir.

It is Number 5, New Row, Land of the Dead,
Where grandfather is rising from his place
With spectacles pushed back on a clean bald head
To welcome a bewildered homing daughter
Before she even knocks. 'What's this? What's this?'
And they sit down in the shining room together.

When all the others were away at Mass
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes.
They broke the silence, let fall one by one
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron:
Cold comforts set between us, things to share
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water.
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes
From each other's work would bring us to our senses.

So while the parish priest at her bedside
Went hammer and tongs at prayers for the dying
And some were responding and some crying
I remembered her head bent towards my head,
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives—
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

Fear of affectation made her affect
Inadequacy whenever it came to
Pronouncing words 'beyond her'. Bertold Brek.
She'd manage something hampered and askew
Every time, as if she might betray
The hampered and inadequate by too
Well-adjusted a vocabulary.
With more challenge than pride, she'd tell me, 'You
Know all them things.' So I governed my tongue
In front of her, a genuinely well-
Adjusted adequate betrayal
Of what I knew better. I'd naw and aye
And decently relapse into the wrong
Grammar which kept us allied and at bay.

The cool that came off sheets just off the line
Made me think the damp must still be in them
But when I took my corners of the linen
And pulled against her, first straight down the hem
And then diagonally, then flapped and shook
The fabric like a sail in a cross-wind,
They'd make a dried-out undulating thwack.
So we'd stretch and fold and end up hand to hand
For a split second as if nothing had happened
For nothing had that had not always happened
Beforehand, day by day, just touch and go,
Coming close again by holding back
In moves where I was x and she was o
Inscribed in sheets she'd sewn from ripped-out flour sacks.

In the first flush of the Easter holidays
The ceremonies during Holy Week
Were highpoints of our Sons and Lovers phase.
The midnight fire. The paschal candlestick.
Elbow to elbow, glad to be kneeling next
To each other up there near the front
Of the packed church, we would follow the text
And rubrics for the blessing of the font.
As the hind longs for the streams, so my soul . . .
Dippings. Towellings. The water breathed on.
The water mixed with chrism and oil.
Cruet tinkle. Formal incensation
And the psalmist's outcry taken up with pride:
Day and night my tears have been my bread.

In the last minutes he said more to her
Almost than in their whole life together.
'You'll be in New Row on Monday night
And I'll come up for you and you'll be glad
When I walk in the door . . . Isn't that right?'
His head was bent down to her propped-up head.
She could not hear but we were overjoyed.
He called her good and girl. Then she was dead,
The searching for a pulsebeat was abandoned
And we all knew one thing by being there.
The space we stood around had been emptied
Into us to keep, it penetrated
Clearances that suddenly stood open.
High cries were felled and a pure change happened.

I thought of walking round and round a space
Utterly empty, utterly a source
Where the decked chestnut tree had lost its place
In our front hedge above the wallflowers.
The white chips jumped and jumped and skited high.
I heard the hatchet's differentiated
Accurate cut, the crack, the sigh
And collapse of what luxuriated
Through the shocked tips and wreckage of it all.
Deep-planted and long gone, my coeval
Chestnut from a jam jar in a hole,
Its heft and hush became a bright nowhere,
A soul ramifying and forever
Silent, beyond silence listened for.

Arabic translation of Seamus Heaney's poem "Punishment" by the Palestinian poet Iqbal Tamimi:

 


وفاة الشاعر الإيرلندي "شيموس هيني" الذي مجّد وحل المستنقعات

إقبال التميمي 



توفي يوم أمس الجمعة 30 من أغسطس 2013 في مدينة دبلن، الشاعر الايرلندي شيموس هيني المولود عام 1039. قال عنه روبرت لويل بأنه أشهر شاعر ايرلندي منذ الشاعر ويليام بتلر ييتس.

قال رئيس الوزراء الايرلندي "اندا كيني" أن وفاة الشاعر هيني جلبت "الحزن الكبير لأيرلندا، وإلى اللغة وإلى الأدب".

 كان هيني قد فاز بجائزة نوبل للآداب عام 1995 لأنه وحسب ما قالت عنه لجنة تقييم الأعمال الأدبية لجائزة نوبل  "أعماله ذات جمال غنائي وعمق أخلاقي. وأشاد شعره بالمعجزات اليومية والماضي الذي ما زلنا نحياه".

في تأبينه وصفت صحيفة الاندبندنت البريطانية هيني على أنه "ربما أكثر الشعراء شهرة في العالم". ورغم شعبيته ونجوميته، كان هيني شاعر المستنقعات والوحل والأشياء الوضيعة والمتسخة التي حملت رمزية القمع السياسي والاجتماعي.  من أشهر قصائدة "أرض المستنقعات"، "رجل تولوند"، " البلوط المستنقع"، "عقاب"، "الحفر"، "المصهر"، "موت صاحب مذهب الطبيعة"، "قطاف التوت الأسود". إضافة إلى ترجمته الشهيرة للملحمة الأنجلو- ساكسونية "بيوولف" من اللغة الانجليزية القديمة والمكونة من 3182 بيت طويل.

 معروف أن هيني من أهالي قطاع ألستر في أقصى شمال ايرلندا لذلك اشتهر بكتاباته الشعرية السياسية عن الاضطرابات التي حصلت في ايرلندا الشمالية. قصائده كانت فظة نوعا ما غنائية وبلهجة ايرلندية-انجليزية عامية. ورغم أن بريطانيا احتلت وطنه ايرلندا وكتب الكثير عن قهرها، إلا أنه في عيد ميلاده السبعين الذي صادف عام 2009 كشف عن أن ثلثي المجموعات الشعرية التي بيعت في المملكة المتحدة في العام السابق كانت من انتاجه.

سأقدم هنا في ذيل المادة ترجمة لنموذج من شعره. قصيدة بعنوان "العقاب" وفيها يتحدث عن العنف ويستخدم أسلوب المقارنة في سلسلة من قصائده المشابهه عن اكتشاف الحفريات الأثرية في المستنقعات شمال ايرلندا وشمال أوروبا. حيث تم استخراج رفات بقايا بشرية من ضحايا العنف والقرابين البشرية مستخدما من خلال أشعاره استعارات مناسبة وموازية لطرح موضوع السياسات الطائفية في الحياة العصرية في ايرلندا الشمالية. واستخدام الاستعارات للتحدث عن النسبة العالية من العنف من خلال الإعدامات القاسية وتعذيب أهالي تلك المستنقعات في الماضي كمثل يوازي الفظائع التي حصلت في ايرلندا في السبعينيات. وقصيدة "العقاب" الشهيرة هي إحدى سلسلة قصائد كتبها واستخدم فيها صورة المرأة كضحية قدمت قربانا لأنها زانية. نجد في القصيدة سخرية مؤلمة ونبرة تعاطف مع الضحية إذ يقول "أكاد أحبك".

في القصيدة شيء من المقارنة بين المرأة التي أعدمت ووجدت غارقة في الوحل وبين النساء الإيرلنديات اللواتي خنّ ايرلندا في السنوات الأخيرة إذ تواطئن مع المعتدي وتمت معاقبتهن بتلطيخ وجوههن بالقطران. مرة أخرى، إنجلترا هي القوة القمعية في قصائده وهي التي أدت إلى وفيات لم يكن لها داع من نساء ورجال ايرلندا. لكن لوحظ في القصيدة أن الشاعر وجد نفسه في خانة عدم القدرة على التفريق بين ما هو صحيح وما هو خطأ إذ وقع بين الشعور "بالغضب المتحضّر" وبين تفهم أسباب "الأخذ بالثأر بأسلوب قبلي همجي متخلف" كما كانت تتم معاقبة النساء الزانيات في العصر الحديدي.

جمالية القصيدة أو تقدير الأدباء لها كانت نتيجة استخدامه أسلوب الرمز والتشبيه لتفادي الحديث مباشرة عن النزاعات الطائفية أو ذكر أسماء معروفة لأشخاص اقترفوا الفظائع في ايرلندا الشمالية واستخدام الشعر ليساعد القراء في الإطلال على مشاعرهم الداخلية ومراجعة أنفسهم بعمق.

 

العقاب

شعر سيموس هيني – ترجمة الشاعرة الفلسطينية إقبال التميمي

 

أستطيع أن أشعر بسحب

الرسن خلف

عنقها، والريح

على مقدمة جسدها العاري.

تضرب حلمتيها

كخرز من العنبر،

تهز ملابسها الخفيفة

على أضلاعها.

أستطيع ان أرى إغراقها

جسد في المستنقع،ال

والحجر الثقيل،

والقضبان والأغصان العائمة.

وما تحتها. في البداية

كانت مثل شتلة تنبح

تم نبشها

عظام من البلوط، وربع برميل دماغ:

 

رأسها المحلوق

مثل شعيرات ذرة سوداء

معصوبة العينين برباط وسخ

حبل مشنقتها على شكل حلقة

 

احفظي

ذكريات الحب

أيتها الزانية الصغيرة

قبل أن يعاقبوكي

 

كنت شقراء الشعر

ضعيفة التغذية، ووجهك المسود بفعل القطران

 كان جميلاً.

يا مسكينتي يا كبش الفداء

 

أكاد أحبك

ولكن من شأني أن،

 أنا أعرف،

بأنني سارجمك بحجارة الصمت

أنا الداهية المتلصص

على دماغك المكشوف

وأمشاطك المغروزة

ولسع عضلاتك بالسياط

وجميع عظامك المرقمّة:

أنا الذي وقفت أبكماً

عندما قامت أخواتك الخائنات

الملوثات بالقطران

بالبكاء على السور

من من شأنه التواطؤ

في غضب متحضر

ومع ذلك، يفهم تماما

الثأر القبلي الحميم


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