Alexander Averin

Tuesday, 3 September 2013

Nolle Timere

Seamus Heaney 1939 - 2013

A Great Irish Poet and Patriot.
Like so many others I was very saddened to hear of the passing of Seamus Heaney this week. Not only was he such a great poet he was also very much loved by all who knew him.
During the funeral service one of his sons, Michael Heaney, revealed that his father’s last words, sent as a text message to his wife Marie minutes before he died, were “nolle timere”, Latin meaning “don’t be afraid”.

It is really hard to pick my favourite poem by Heaney but here is one that I love which is timely.

He has moved on at blackberry picking time.

God rest his soul.



Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.
We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.

Seamus Heaney




Pamela Terry and Edward said...

We are on the same page today.
Oh, how we shall miss him.

ds said...

Ah, one of my favorites of his poems. Lovely tribute. He is greatly missed. Thank you.

Pondside said...

I thought of this poem more than once during the two weeks our little grandsons were with us. We picked blackberries every, single day, and they ate their fill!

mary said...

Wonderful last words.

mary said...

Cait, you might like this if you haven't seen it already.

Vee said...

Such a sweet final message for his wife and all those who would miss him. This poem is a treasure. We're, none of us, any good, off the life-giving vine. That's how I take it anyway.

Hope that you try the galette...I'm sure that you would love it...before the tomatoes rot. (I have had to toss so many. They have split on the vine from too much water.)