The Haw Lantern
The wintry haw is burning out of season,
crab of the thorn, a small light for small people,
wanting no more from them but that they keep
the wick of self-respect from dying out,
not having to blind them with illumination.
But sometimes when your breath plumes in the frost
it takes the roaming shape of Diogenes
with his lantern, seeking one just man;
so you end up scrutinized from behind the haw
he holds up at eye-level on its twig,
and you flinch before its bonded pith and stone,
its blood-prick that you wish would test and clear you,
its pecked-at ripeness that scans you, then moves on.
She taught me what her uncle once taught her:
How easily the biggest coal block split
If you got the grain and hammer angled right.
The sound of that relaxed alluring blow,
Its co-opted and obliterated echo,
Taught me to hit, taught me to loosen,
Taught me between the hammer and the block
To face the music. Teach me now to listen,
To strike it rich behind the linear black.
Seamus Heaney (Condado de Derry, Irlanda del Norte, 1939). Poeta, crítico literario y traductor. Académico irlandés. . Catedratico en la Universidad Harvard, Massachusetts, y en la Universidad de Oxford, Inglaterra. Premio Nobel de Literatura en 1995.