Glenshane Pass separated you both. 23 miles away in the same time, same place as my father’s childhood. So when you talked of your da digging Toner’s bog and waxed lyrical about sheughs, I knew in our English class what exactly you were saying (when others didn’t). Your words float over time & space to me now. A celebration of the intimacy of our homelands. A holy adoration of long gone voices that still resonate.
You never strayed, never. It was always in your heart, always: the land, the forgotten lanes, the broad fields, the lost language of it all. I keep a certain comfort now with your lines as I Iay in my southerly home, knowing that I am forever tithed to the townlands of our shared ancestry. I thank you. May your words stay alive as song as Ireland still has its beauty and may their illumination still shine on us all.
Heaney was indeed in the same time & geographical places that my father grew up in. Glenshane Pass is a stretch of road between Dungiven and Maghera in Co. Derry that traverses some of the Sperrins mountain range. Heaney grew up in Banagher, my dad in Park both villages on either side of the range. A sheugh is a ditch on the side of the field which acts as a boundary in farming land.
Why write a poem? Write a tweet instead. Goes the internal monologue running in my head. Why write a poem? Go and do some work. Getting out the fountain pen is an excuse to shirk. Why write a poem? Nobody cares. Spend your time on snapchat racking up the 'flares'. Why write a poem? Heaney's been dead for years. Can't read Mid Term Break without it reducing me to tears.