Seamus Heaney, West of Ireland (2) and bees

The death of Seamus Heaney – my favourite poet – was ” a breach in the language” as one commentator wrote. Heaney was only 74 and who knows what exquisite and telling phrases he might have produced had he lived. Not that his extensive output did not contain countless phrases and sentences that any poem would have been proud to write and that readers like me could only wonder at the originality and the tautness of phrase. I’ve just taken down from my bookshelves my own collection of Seamus Heaney and I have nine books of his poems as well as a book of interviews with him. I have many favourite Heaney poems, too many to list here, but one is Sunlight “There was a sunlit absence. /The helmeted pump in the yard/  heated its iron,/ water honeyed/  in the slung bucket/ and the sun stood
like a griddle cooling/ against the wall”. One of the skills that a poet like Heaney had was distillation. If you take that first stanza in Sunlight and try to write out a description – in prose – of what the poet allows you to see – and of course, to imagine- how many sentences would you end up writing. I’ll be reading Seamus Heaney for the rest of my life.

Following on from last week’s description of our visit to the west of Ireland, another outing  was to Kylemore Abbey. Originally built as a castle and lavishly decorated in the Italian style, it was sold in the late 19th century to a British duke who, trying to impress the then king, ripped out all the Italian interior and replaced it with Victorian furniture etc. In the end, the duke gambled away the castle and it feel into ruin before being taken over by nuns in the 1920s. Photo 1 shows the outside of the abbey and Photo 2 shows the elegant dining table. It’s an interesting visited and we would have also visited the extensive walled garden but the rain poured down incessantly – another time. We did go to the church which the original owner built for his late wife – Photo 3 – and one of the most interesting aspect of this church is the use of Irish marble (Photos 4 and 5) and my favourite was the green from Connemara.

An interesting link to Seamus Heaney appeared in my poetry calendar yesterday – the Lake Isle of Innesfree by W B Yeats, as Heaney’s greatness as a poet was compared to that of Yeats in many of the obituaries. The poem begins “I will arise and go now, and go to Innesfree” and the poet aims to build a hive for bees “And live alone in the bee-loud glade”.  In the phrase “bee-loud” you can hear the incessant buzzing of bees. Having planted new lavender and some wild flowers in my garden, this year has been great for bees to visit and to feast on the nectar. I managed to catch a couple of the bees in close up – not an easy thing to do as they move continuously – see Photos 6 and 7. If only Seamus Heaney could have seen them and written a poem about them.

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey

Kylemore Abbey church

Kylemore Abbey church

Irish marble

Irish marble

Irish marble at Kylemore Abbey church

Irish marble at Kylemore Abbey church

Bee on lavender

Bee on lavender

Bee on lavender

Bee on lavender

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