Sunday, September 01, 2013

A White Wing Beating High

Seamus Heaney, 1939-2013

A Kite for Aibhín
—Seamus Heaney

After 'L'Aquilone' by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912)

Air from another life and time and place,

Pale blue heavenly air is supporting

A white wing beating high against the breeze,

And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon

All of us there trooped out

Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,

I take my stand again, halt opposite

Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,

Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.

And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew,

Lifts itself, goes with the wind until

It rises to loud cheers from us below.

Rises, and my hand is like a spindle

Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower

Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher

The longing in the breast and planted feet

And gazing face and heart of the kite flier

Until string breaks and—separate, elate—

The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.


For more about Seamus Heaney see, among other sites, For the New York Times article about his passing last Friday, see