Okay, so here’s a confession: in all my years of living in a world where words matter to me and I majored in English and took a year’s worth of poetry writing, I admit that I did not recognize the name of Seamus Heaney, the Irish poet who died on Friday.
Clearly, I have missed out.
Last week I posted about canning tomatoes…only I wasn’t really canning tomatoes. Here’s my first line in case you forgot or didn’t see it: “This is how I can tomatoes: with words.” Okay, now that that’s brutally clear, you’ll understand how I felt when I read Seamus Heaney’s poem, Digging. Here it is in full:
The cold smell of potato
mould, the squelch and
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
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.
(As quoted in the Minneapolis Star Tribune, Early Edition, September 1, 2013.)
Can you even stand how wonderful this is? And I get it! I so can relate. We may not be able or willing to can tomatoes or dig potatoes, but hopefully we writers can give something else to the world with our words:
Moments of recognition in a few words. Moments where people see themselves in language. Moments where our hearts and the hearts of our readers leap with shared longing.
I pray that I can deliver such moments.