Celebrating Seamus Heaney on St. Patrick’s Day

As Ireland today celebrates its Patron Saint, as it has done for a 1000 years, I thought I would celebrate the coming of Spring by the Irish poet Seamus Heaney. He declared himself as identifying Irish, having lived in the Republic of Ireland since 1972:

“Be advised my passport’s green.
No glass of ours was ever raised
to toast the Queen.”

Rite of Spring

So winter closed its fist
And got it stuck in the pump.
The plunger froze up a lump

In its throat, ice founding itself
Upon iron. The handle
Paralysed at an angle.

Then the twisting of wheat straw
into ropes, lapping them tight
Round stem and snout, then a light

That sent the pump up in a flame
It cooled, we lifted her latch,
Her entrance was wet, and she came.

Seamus Heaney


The title’s reference to Igor Stravinsky’s avant-garde ballet, ‘The Rite of Spring’, elevates this mundane act of melting the frozen pump into a symbolic ritualistic entrance into the springtime. This poem is about everything connoted with Spring: rejuvenation, renewal and the end of the barren, cold winter, and the orgasmic last stanza embodies the final release into springtime.