Seamus Heaney commandeered language as captain
of a ship who knows the power of words to direct
the vessel he sails––whether to bridle or ride the waves.
He was also a seaman who saw stains on the foredeck
and scrubbed them out in service to telling the story
clean to those who read and see and listen
happily among the hearing herd.
You outlived many but then it was you
for whom death came, thirsty, a-search
and drinking you quickly lest the glass spill
and anything of you be lost.
As poet-survivor among your peers
the task of memorializing had fallen to you
again and again, in memory of Richard,
of Tom, of John Hewitt …
in Seeing Things; they rise again
under your pen to life for us
in poems filled with your humanity
still wholly intact.
…for the life and work of Seamus Heaney
for the Muse who drew him through himself
then out of himself to translate the world
to us in tongues not easy to understand
but in allowing the power of language
to hold us, meaning flows, and in reverie
we know who he is: Bard in the wilder-
ness who did not abandon his native land
of human touch. He left a path of words
to follow, crumbs he had dropped
on his way out to the poems.