Monday, February 27, 2012

Off the Shelf Archive~February

Barely making it before the end of the month, the Archivist frantically bestirs herself to change out last month's Seamus Heaney selection for something to give us a breath of madness and spring, from Lorca.

I never get a lot of readers or response to this feature, but I do get a lot of personal satisfaction from it, so I'm going to continue it, but without the tedious commentary on my part. From now on it will just be poems. In that spirit,  you will find Ghazel of Unforeseen Love, by Spanish surrealist poet Federico Garcia Lorca in the March

and below is last month's Punishment, by Seamus Heaney, read by the author. As always, feel free to comment on either poem here, as comments are disabled off the main page.

~by Seamus Heaney

Here is the text:

by Seamus Heaney (1939-)

I can feel the tug
of the halter at the nape
of her neck, the wind
on her naked front.

It blows her nipples
to amber beads,
it shakes the frail rigging
of her ribs.

I can see her drowned
body in the bog,
the weighing stone,
the floating rods and boughs.

Under which at first
she was a barked sapling
that is dug up
oak-bone, brain-firkin:

her shaved head
like a stubble of black corn,
her blindfold a soiled bandage,
her noose a ring

to store
the memories of love.
Little adultress,
before they punished you

you were flaxen-haired,
undernourished, and your
tar-black face was beautiful.
My poor scapegoat,

I almost love you
but would have cast, I know,
the stones of silence.
I am the artful voyeur

of your brain's exposed
and darkened combs,
your muscles' webbing
and all your numbered bones:

I who have stood dumb
when your betraying sisters,
cauled in tar,
wept by the railings,

who would connive
in civilized outrage
yet understand the exact
and tribal, intimate revenge.


  1. wow...some pretty amazing imagery in this one hedge...there is pain in her submission for me...the ring noose, shaved head speaks to slavery for me...and at those that watch letting it happen...

    i could not get the vid to play...said it was an error...

    1. Huh...plays okay for me. Here's the link to watch a different capture of it on you tube directly:

  2. The video worked fine for me ... but it downloaded slowly and so it halted quite a bit. But this is a really intense poem ... exceptionally good images. Thank you for sharing it!

    1. You're welcome, Matt. Glad you dug it. I thought it was the most exceptionally cold-blooded and realistic romantic humanist poem I ever read.

  3. Can't listen to video in my circumstances at moment, but incredibly great poem; thanks. Makes me realize I should approach the whole subject differently. k.

    1. "I am the artful voyeur/of your brains exposed and darkened combs..' Hard to top. I am really wanting to write about war atm, but finding it difficult to approach and wrangle into substance.


"We make out of the quarrel with others, rhetoric, out of the quarrel with ourselves, poetry." ~William Butler Yeats

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