His poems seemed washed in the affectionate, melancholic light of memory, so that everything he touches quietly glows. We all cast mythical shadows in his poems, we’re all the gods and goddesses of our own creation. However humble our labors may seem, they become honorable in his words.
Probably not a very scholarly or accurate thing to say about his poetry, but that’s how it feels to me, and that’s how it fits my mood lately.
When asked to choose two poems that summed up his life’s work, he chose two with mythical overtones. In The Underground, he imagines a scene from his honeymoon in light of the myth of Orpheus and Eurydice.
There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
Upon you before you turned to a reed
Or some new white flower japped with crimson
As the coat flapped wild and button after button
Sprang off and fell in a trail
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall.
Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms,
Our echoes die in that corridor and now
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons
To end up in a draughty lamplit station
After the trains have gone, the wet track
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
For your step following and damned if I look back.
Damned if I look back!!
This is a mild, plainish cake, with subtle flavors. A tea-cake, if you will. Good with your coffee in the morning, your tea in the afternoon, and your wine after dinner. It’s very easy to make, I did it all in the food processor in a matter of minutes. It has pistachios ground right into the batter. It’s flavored with vanilla and cardamom, and of course it has chocolate chips, because all good cakes have chocolate chips!! I made it in the French style, with whipped eggs and no extra leavening.
Here’s Seamus Heaney reading The Underground, for your song today.