Monday, 21 February 2011

Penwork that cramps my hand


Saturday night in the London Underground. A nondescript man is slumped in his seat sleeping. Above him a “Poems on the Underground” by :
Colmcille the Scribe from the Irish c. 11th century, translated by Seamus Heaney (Human Chain, 2010)

My hand is cramped from penwork
My quill has a tapered point
Its bird-mouth issues a blue-dark
Beetle-spark of ink

Wisdom keeps welling in streams
From my fine-drawn sallow hand
Riverrun on the vellum
of ink from green-skinned holly.

My small runny pen keeps going
Through books, through thick and thin
To enrich the scholar’s holdings
Penwork that cramps my hand.

6 comments:

  1. thanks for sharing... its beautiful.

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  2. Heaney's work is stellar. i really enjoy the photograph you've included. As I adore the handwritten, the personal, the real feeling of vellum or paper betwixt finger and thumb, I'll be back around for more of this choice blogging.
    Ciao!
    Rose

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  3. Thank you both. It was a tired, drab evening - this poem made me smile.

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  4. "Its bird-mouth issues a blue-dark / Beetle-spark of ink."

    That is just word-perfect. Thanks for sharing this.

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  5. fine-dawn or fine-drawn?

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