For the Good Turf. Digging.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.

Under my window, a clean rasping sound
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:
My father, digging. I look down

Till his straining rump among the flowerbeds
Bends low, comes up twenty years away
Stooping in rhythm through potato drills
Where he was digging.

The coarse boot nestled on the lug, the shaft
Against the inside knee was levered firmly.
He rooted out tall tops, buried the bright edge deep
To scatter new potatoes that we picked
Loving their cool hardness in our hands.

By God, the old man could handle a spade.
Just like his old man.

My grandfather cut more turf in a day
Than any other man on Toner’s bog.
Once I carried him milk in a bottle
Corked sloppily with paper. He straightened up
To drink it, then fell to right away

Nicking and slicing neatly, heaving sods
Over his shoulder, going down and down
For the good turf. Digging.

The cold smell of potato mould, the squelch and slap
Of soggy peat, the curt cuts of an edge
Through living roots awaken in my head.
But I’ve no spade to follow men like them.

Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests.
I’ll dig with it.

Seamus Heaney, ‘Digging’

Fes, In the Evening

Swirl and swarm, the swallows
Fling themselves, they thrust and pary
The air, flee the ramparts, and swim
The crowds in the great square.
I catch a spiral, a rising gyre, and my eye
Follows the dust of the city up,
On a bird’s wings, it flies, skirts
The white-washed minaret, up past the
Gates, and there it meets, on swallows’ tails
The sun’s last rays: earth and
Heaven mingle, whirl-
Still the swallows gyre on-
Losing sense and sight of which
Is which.