15 July 2012

the peninsula

When you have nothing more to say, just drive
For a day all round the peninsula.
The sky is tall as over a runway,
The land without marks, so you will not arrive

But pass through, though always skirting landfall.
At dusk, horizons drink down sea and hill,
The ploughed field swallows the whitewashed gable
And you’re in the dark again. Now recall

The glazed foreshore and silhouetted log,
That rock where breakers shredded into rags,
The leggy birds stilted on their own legs
Islands riding themselves out into the fog,

And drive back home, still with nothing to say
Except that now you will uncode all landscapes
By this: things founded clean on their own shapes,
Water and ground in their extremity.

 - Seamus Heaney, from ‘Door into the Dark,’ 1969.

A friend sent me this poem last week.  It really captures the particular nature of a piece of land that juts out into the sea, almost an island but not quite separate from the 'main land'; and the intense noticing of detail as part of the experience of traversing it.

I won't drive round my peninsula, I'll walk. 

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