Saturday, November 13, 2004


Fishermen at Ballyshannon
Netted an infant last night
Along with the salmon.
An illegitimate spawning,

A small one thrown back
To the waters. But I'm sure
As she stood in the shallows
Ducking him tenderly

Till the frozen knobs of her wrists
Were dead as the gravel,
He was a minnow with hooks
Tearing her open.

She waded in under
The sign of the cross.
He was hauled in with the fish.
Now limbo will be

A cold glitter of souls
Through some far briny zone.
Even Christ's palms, unhealed,
Smart and cannot fish there.

Seamus Heaney

He reads beautifully, reels the words in but the meaning eludes me. Maybe it's because I've eaten salmon AND kippers tonight.
Ah, Bernardito! It is the clearest of conceits! It is based on an incident where fishermen in a small town in Ireland discovered a newborn baby's body in their nets. Heaney tries to imagine the mother drowning the baby and setting it adrift. In typical Heaney fashion, he turns a gruesome story into something wonderful and full of redemption. He makes the analogy with Christ as a fisher of men. The baby, unbaptized, must - according to the Catholic church - be in limbo. This is a magical place in the poem, with its catch of a "cold glitter of souls". Here even Christ's stigmata sting from the salt: a place where he cannot fish. Perhaps there are places that offer greater redemption than a Christian one - this is Heaney's natural world seen through his poetry. I want to go there!

It's the force of the logic rather than the logic of the logic!
I read in haste. Late nights, another blurry computer screen. The head a jumble of half-learned Spanish, the belly aswim with kippers. Thank you for your explication. But are you a pagan? Or a crusader?
Hey Bernardo! I'm writing this from Memphis, Tennessee. You know that song:"Walking in Memphis"? There is a line where the singer visits a club in Beale Street and sings some gospel songs with his friend Muriel:

"She said, 'Are you a Christian, child?'. And I said, 'Man, I am tonight!'"

A good believer should always have a sense of occasion.
OK, I believe in Elvis --- at least while you're in Memphis. Speaking of the great and the good, Pim Fortuyn has been voted the greatest Dutchman (why does that expression sound satirical?) of all time, ahead of William of Orange. Well, it was a TV poll in the Nether-regions.
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