Say ‘canal’ and there’s that final vowel
Towing silence with it, slowing time
To a walking pace, a path, a whitewashed gleam
Of dwellings at the skyline. World stands still.
The stunted concrete mocks the classical.
Water says, ‘My place here is in dream,
In quiet good standing. Like a sleeping stream,
Come rain or sullen shine I’m peaceable.’
Stretched to the horizon, placid ploughland,
The sky not truly bright or overcast:
I know that clay, the damp and dirt of it,
The coolth along the bank, the grassy zest
Of verges, the path not narrow but still straight
Where soul could mind itself or stray beyond.—Seamus Heaney, “Banks of a Canal”
Seamus Heaney died on this date in 2013. Ten days before his death, he submitted the above poem, “Banks of a Canal” to the National Gallery of Ireland for inclusion in an anthology, Lines of Vision: Irish Writers on Art.
Each writer selected a work from the National Gallery and wrote a piece; Heaney chose Banks of a Canal near Naples (circa 1872) by the French artist Gustave Caillebotte, which is the painting at the top. Heaney was 74 at his death; his poetry retained its music and power: “the grassy zest / Of verges, the path not narrow but still straight / Where soul could mind itself or stray beyond.”
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President Benjamin Harrison signed the first law requiring inspection of meat products on this date in 1890. The law required that the U.S. Department of Agriculture inspect salted pork and bacon intended for export through the Bureau of Animal Industry.
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Ty Cobb faced major league pitching for the first time on this date in 1905. He hit a double of Jack Chesbro of the New York Highlanders (later known as the New York Yankees). Cobb was 18 years old and only hit .240 for the rest of the season but he was the full-time center fielder for the Detroit Tigers the next season.
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Vera-Ellen died 35 years ago today. Glenn Ford died ten years ago today. Naguib Mahfouz died ten years ago today. Dr. Oliver Sacks died one year ago today.
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Mary Shelley was born on this date in 1797. Ted Williams was born on this date in 1918. Angelo Dundee was born 95 years ago today. Molly Ivins was born 72 years ago today.
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Bill Daily is 89 today. Warren Buffett is 86 today. Elizabeth Ashley is 77. Robert Crumb (R. Crumb) is 73 today. Lewis Black is 68. Timothy Bottoms is 65. Michael Chiklis is 53. Cameron Diaz is 44. Lisa Ling is 43. Shaun Alexander is 39. Andy Roddick is 34.
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This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.
Thank you for sharing the Seamus Heaney poem Mark. So hard to imagine he has been gone three years already.
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