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POEM FOR SEAMUS HEANEY BY DAVID COOKE



POETS’ WIVES
i.m Seamus Heaney

Away with the fairies my wife will say
after we’ve been on a walk or I’m asked,
out of the blue, what I think of the dress
she’s spotted, when I’m only vaguely there –

pursuing the rhythms inside my head
and depriving her of my attention
as slowly, mysteriously, the lines
coalesce into another damn poem.

And if at times I frustrate her, the fault
must lie with you whose work first inspired me,
devouring your books, until each three, four
or five year interval has mapped my life

from its teenage days: increments of time
that once dragged, yet speed exponentially
now that I see behind me fallow years
of paid work, bills, responsibility;

thankful at least for the late revival
of a gift which – however slight – I know
I betrayed: a bind your own exemplar,
Yeats, defined and you surely understood

when, in ‘An Afterwards’ perhaps only
half-jokingly, you had Marie plunge you
and all your kind into the ninth circle
for your assiduous care of the word.


poem by David Cooke, copyright 2013

David Cooke won an Eric Gregory Award in 1977 and published his first collection, Brueghel’s Dancers in 1984. His retrospective collection, In the Distance, was published in 2011 by Night Publishing and a collection of more recent pieces, Work Horses, was published by Ward Wood Publishing in 2012.  His poems, translations and reviews have appeared widely in journals including Agenda, Ambit, The Bow Wow Shop, The Critical Quarterly, The Irish Press, The London Magazine, Magma, The North, Orbis,  Other Poetry, Poetry Ireland Review, Poetry London, Poetry Salzburg Review, The Reader, The SHOp and Stand. 

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