Seamus Heaney

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

Villanelle For An Anniversary - Poem by Seamus Heaney

A spirit moved. John Harvard walked the yard,
The atom lay unsplit, the west unwon,
The books stood open and the gates unbarred.

The maps dreamt on like moondust. Nothing stirred.
The future was a verb in hibernation.
A spirit moved, John Harvard walked the yard.

Before the classic style, before the clapboard,
All through the small hours of an origin,
The books stood open and the gate unbarred.

Night passage of a migratory bird.
Wingflap. Gownflap. Like a homing pigeon
A spirit moved, John Harvard walked the yard.

Was that his soul (look) sped to its reward
By grace or works? A shooting star? An omen?
The books stood open and the gate unbarred.

Begin again where frosts and tests were hard.
Find yourself or founder. Here, imagine
A spirit moves, John Harvard walks the yard,
The books stand open and the gates unbarred.

Topic(s) of this poem: anniversary

Form: Villanelle


Comments about Villanelle For An Anniversary by Seamus Heaney

  • (9/3/2016 11:05:00 AM)


    After reading this poem I did a bit of research and discovered this is the man who founded Harvard University. I also discovered what the structure of a villanelle should be. We live and learn, so much in one poem. (Report) Reply

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  • (10/29/2015 8:26:00 PM)


    I find this a sincere tribute to John Hayward, a man from an earlier time-before the atom was split.
    A scholar and 'the books stood open'. That was John Hayward. M. Walker.
    (Report) Reply

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Poem Submitted: Monday, February 9, 2015



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