The Kicker

July 28, 2011 § 1 Comment

The kicker is the sentence that hurts. It’s damn hard to write and harder to read, but it’s the best part about reading. I was reading some poetry today and, oh, you don’t read poetry after work? How…pedestrian. Now excuse me while I go back to watching Deadliest Warrior.  For your reference, yes, that is a hypothetical battle between the Viet Cong and the Waffen SS (Why can’t I stop watching it??? HELP ME!). Ahem.

Anyways, I was reading a poem and it had an amazing kicker. Even better, it was the last sentence in the poem. That is probably the hardest thing in the world and the most time-consuming. In some pieces, I have agonized for hours over a title, much less the last line of the piece. This poem reminds me why a) this man has won a Nobel Prize b) that I will never be a poet (my stuff sucks). 

This poem (it’s short, so read it) has the best closing line I’ve ever read. Period. I know I need to work on my poetry, but this just makes me want to give up. Curse you, Seamus Heaney! Curse your eloquence!

 

Mid-Term Break

I sat all morning in a college sick bay

Counting bells knelling classes to a close.

At two o’clock our neighbours drove me home.

 

In the porch I met my father crying –

He had always taken funerals in his stride –

And Big Jim Evans saying it was a hard blow.

 

The baby cooed and laughed and rocked the pram

When I came in, and I was embarrassed

By old men standing up to shake my hand

 

And tell me they were ‘sorry for my trouble’.

Whispers informed strangers I was the eldest,

Away at school, as my mother held my hand

 

In hers and coughed out angry tearless sighs.

At ten o’clock the ambulance arrived

With the corpse, stanched and bandaged by the nurses.

 

Next morning I went up into the room. Snowdrops

And candles soother the bedside; I saw him

For the first time in six weeks. Paler now,

 

Wearing a poppy bruise on his left temple,

He lay in the four-foot box as in his cot.

No gaudy scars, the bumper knocked him clear.

 

A four-foot box, a foot for every year.

 

 – Seamus Heaney, from Death of a Naturalist (1966)

 

No music. No music for this.

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