Seamus Heaney

Rookie (April 13,1939 - August 30, 2013 / Castledàwson, County Londonderry)

Tankas For Toraiwa - Poem by Seamus Heaney

I loved to carry
Her violin case, its nose
In air, its back end
Nice and heavy, the balance
Factored in and factored out.

Every time she placed
Her two thumbs to the two snibs
And opened the lid
She couldn’t help a quick frown
(Disguised pleasure?) as she checked.

Then her brow would clear
And the sun disc of her face
Tilt up and brighten
At the tap of a baton,
At the tip of a baton…

In the baize-lined case
Emptied of the ingrown jut
Of the fiddlehead,
A lump of ancient resin
And a dirty chamois cloth.

The conductor’s hands –
Big and out of proportion
To his skinny wee
Professor’s body–always,
she said, “interested” her.

Fiddlehead ferns: why
do I think of them do I
Think: Toraiwa?
Because–surprise–he quizzed me
about the erotic life.

Form: Tanka

Comments about Tankas For Toraiwa by Seamus Heaney

  • (9/3/2016 10:28:00 AM)

    I wonder if this is the story of an old girlfriend of Heaney's. Not sure I understand the significance of the last verse. (Report) Reply

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  • Fabrizio Frosini (5/23/2016 10:41:00 AM)

    6 * tanka structured (5-7-5-7-7 syllables) stanzas - even if they are not 'traditional' tanka.

    - * Also the last one has a syllabic structure of a tanka, if you consider British English:
    'quizzed' = 1 syllable in British English (even if 2 syllables in American English)
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Tuesday, January 10, 2012

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