“There was a sunlit absence.”

heaney croppedThis is the first line of my current-favorite poem by the Irish poet who was said to be “permanently homesick.”  I wonder if somehow he enjoyed being homesick. (Absence isn’t dark, it’s “sunlit” and the title of the poem is “Sunlight.”) It describes his aunt baking scones in her kitchen and concludes with a description of love that is unlike any other I’ve ever read: “And here is love like a tinsmith’s scoop sunk past its gleam in the meal-bin.” Past its gleam! A tin scoop in flour! What a strange way to picture love…and yet, it’s haunting and unforgettable.

Seamus Heaney, Selected Poems 1966 – 1987 (New York: The Noonday Press, Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991), p. 63.

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