I haven't posted anything yet for the passing of Seamus Heaney and perhaps now is an appropriate time as the summer season closes out. My first exposure to his verse was during a modern literature class while attending Michigan State University and it was the day he was awarded the Nobel Prize. On a rainy mid autumn evening, when the earlier and earlier encroachment of nightfall still has its disorienting effect upon us northerners, the professor opened the lecture with a reading of Heaney’s poem, 'The Otter', and I distinctly remember being effortlessly guided through its sensorial blend of language and imagery while in full grasp of the emotive recall that is carried within the speaker's voice. It was the first time poetry ever had that strong of a hold on me and I wanted to yell out, ‘hey, read that again’ so we could reenter the poem's current of surfaces and depths.
I loved your wet head and smashing crawl,Your fine swimmer's back and shoulders
Surfacing and surfacing again
This year and every year since.
I sat dry-throated on the warm stones.You were beyond me.
The mellowed clarities, the grape-deep air
Thinned and disappointed.
Thank God for the slow loadening.....
While a few volumes of his poetry make their contribution to my shelves, I have not become a thorough reader of Heaney’s works. At least not yet. So I was pleasantly surprised to find on the excellent and educational haiku blog, NeverEnding Story, a number of posts exploring Heaney’s personal respect for the Asian forms and their influence upon Western traditions: Heaney and His View of Haiku; Dark Wings of Night; BackStories Behind Heaney's Haiku.