Sunday, February 12, 2012
(Detail from a page of the Book of Kells, an illuminated
book of the four Gospels in Latin, created by Celtic monks
around 800 A. D.)
The two realms represent, Seamus Heaney wrote about the poem below, “two orders of knowledge which we might call the practical and the poetic; . . . each form of knowledge redresses the other and . . . the frontier between them is there for the crossing.”
The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air.
The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill,
A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
And struggled to release it. But in vain.
“This man can’t bear our life here and will drown,”
The abbot said, “unless we help him.” So
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
Out of the marvelous as he had known it.
~ Seamus Heaney, born 1939, Irish poet and translator, and winner of the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature