Archiver > IRISH-AMERICAN > 2003-08 > 1060980407

From: "Jean Rice" <>
Subject: [Irish-American] "The Pitchfork" -- Seamus HEANEY, b. 1939 Co. Derry - Professorships Harvard (Cambridge, MA) and Oxford
Date: Fri, 15 Aug 2003 13:46:47 -0700


Of all implements, the pitchfork was the one
That came near to an imagined perfection:
When he tightened his raised hand and aimed with it,
It felt like a javelin, accurate and light.

So whether he played the warrior or the athlete
Or worked in earnest in the chaff and sweat,
He loved its grain of tapering, dark-flecked ash
Grown satiny from its own natural polish.

Riveted steel, turned timber, burnish, grain,
Smoothness, straightness, roundness, length and sheen.
Sweat-cured, sharpened, balanced, tested, fitted.
The springiness, the clip and dart of it.

And then when he thought of probes that reached the
He would see the shaft of a pitchfork sailing past
Evenly, imperturbably through space,
Its prongs starlit and absolutely soundless --

But has learned at last to follow that simple lead
Past its own aim, out to an other side
Where perfection - or nearness to it - is imagined
Not in the aiming but the opening hand.

-- Seamus Heaney, born 1939, Mossbawn, Co. Derry

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