Opened Ground Quotes

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Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney
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Opened Ground Quotes Showing 1-16 of 16
“Between my finger and my thumb
The squat pen rests; snug as a gun.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“We were small and thought we knew nothing Worth knowing. We thought words travelled the wires In the shiny pouches of raindrops, Each one seeded full with the light Of the sky, the gleam of the lines, and ourselves So infinitesimally scaled We could stream through the eye of a needle.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“You carried your own burden and very soon your symptoms of creeping privilege disappeared.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“Archibald MacLeish affirmed that ‘A poem should be equal to / not true’. As a defiant statement of poetry’s gift for telling truth but telling it slant, this is both cogent and corrective. Yet there are times when a deeper need enters, when we want the poem to be not only pleasurably right but compellingly wise, not only a surprising variation played upon the world, but a retuning of the world itself. We want the surprise to be transitive, like the impatient thump which unexpectedly restores the picture to the television set, or the electric shock which sets the fibrillating heart back to its proper rhythm. We want what the woman wanted in the prison queue in Leningrad, standing there blue with cold and whispering for fear, enduring the terror of Stalin’s regime and asking the poet Anna Akhmatova if she could describe it all, if her art could be equal to it.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“As writers and readers, as sinners and citizens, our realism and our aesthetic sense make us wary of crediting the positive note. The very gunfire braces us and the atrocious confers a worth upon the effort which it calls forth to confront it.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“Only the very stupid or the very deprived can any longer help knowing that the documents of civilization have been written in blood and tears, blood and tears no less real for being very remote.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“The form of the poem, in other words, is crucial to poetry’s power to do the thing which always is and always will be to poetry’s credit: the power to persuade that vulnerable part of our consciousness of its rightness in spite of the evidence of wrongness all around it, the power to remind us that we are hunters and gatherers of values, that our very solitudes and distresses are creditable, in so far as they, too, are an earnest of our veritable human being.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“How perilous is it to choose not to love the life we’re shown?”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“The main thing is to write for the joy of it. Cultivate a work-lust that imagines its haven like your hands at night dreaming the sun in the sunspot of a breast.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“peace is merely the desolation left behind after the decisive operations of merciless power.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“Which would be better, what sticks or what falls through? Or does the choice itself create the value?”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“Late August, given heavy rain and sun
For a full week, the blackberries would ripen.
At first, just one, a glossy purple clot
Among others, red, green, hard as a knot.
You ate that first one and its flesh was sweet
Like thickened wine: summer's blood was in it
Leaving stains upon the tongue and lust for
Picking. Then red ones inked up and that hunger
Sent us out with milk cans, pea tins, jam-pots
Where briars scratched and wet grass bleached our boots.
Round hayfields, cornfields and potato-drills
We trekked and picked until the cans were full,
Until the tinkling bottom had been covered
With green ones, and on top big dark blobs burned
Like a plate of eyes. Our hands were peppered
With thorn pricks, our palms sticky as Bluebeard's.

We hoarded the fresh berries in the byre.
But when the bath was filled we found a fur,
A rat-grey fungus, glutting on our cache.
The juice was stinking too. Once off the bush
The fruit fermented, the sweet flesh would turn sour.
I always felt like crying. It wasn't fair
That all the lovely canfuls smelt of rot.
Each year I hoped they'd keep, knew they would not.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“I composed habits for those acres
so that my last look would be
neither gluttonous nor starved.
I was ready to go anywhere.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“Was music once a proof of God’s existence? As long as it admits things beyond measure, That supposition stands.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“So whether he calls it spirit music or not, I don't care. He took it out of wind off mid-Atlantic.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996
“What do we say any more to conjure the salt of our earth? So much comes and is gone that should be crystal and kept, and amicable weathers that bring up the grain of things, their tang of season and store, are all the packing we’ll get.”
Seamus Heaney, Opened Ground: Selected Poems, 1966-1996