The Frontier Of Writing

Crossing The Frontier Of Writing

Poetry is at the frontier of writing, and this poem by Seamus Heaney does what many great poems do: unveils a universal truth behind vivid images of harsh reality.

From The Frontier Of Writing

The tightness and the nilness round that space 
when the car stops in the road, the troops inspect 
its make and number and, as one bends his face 

towards your window, you catch sight of more 
on a hill beyond, eyeing with intent 
down cradled guns that hold you under cover 

and everything is pure interrogation 
until a rifle motions and you move 
with guarded unconcerned acceleration— 

a little emptier, a little spent 
as always by that quiver in the self, 
subjugated, yes, and obedient. 

So you drive on to the frontier of writing 
where it happens again. The guns on tripods; 
the sergeant with his on-off mike repeating 

data about you, waiting for the squawk 
of clearance; the marksman training down 
out of the sun upon you like a hawk. 

And suddenly you're through, arraigned yet freed, 
as if you'd passed from behind a waterfall 
on the black current of a tarmac road 

past armor-plated vehicles, out between 
the posted soldiers flowing and receding 
like tree shadows into the polished windscreen.

--Seamus Heaney

A collection of Heaney’s poems can be found here: © Ken Stange 2012-2015