Thursday, 9 April 2015

H is for Heart-lifting...and Heaney

Heaney, Seamus (1939-2013)

A native of Northern Ireland, a major contemporary poet and a Nobel Laureate in literature.  One of the best known and loved poets of our times.  My prompt here is his poem Digging.


I don’t really know what my grandfather
did for a living.  He told me that for
a time he was in jute in Narayangunj
but that folded, ruined during the great war.

Some sort of rehearsal, some vague template
he supposed in hindsight, for the loss of much
greater things. “Once their world war was sorted,
ours began,” he said, but didn’t touch

on exactly how. A private bank, banks
could be private then, took him on, but then
went bankrupt itself,  in an ironic twist
unappreciated by jobless men.

I know what my father did for a living
though. He planned buildings, big and small,
urban and in the mofussils, swimming-pooled
in the back, terraced gardens, mirrored hall;

three bedroomed, pigeonholed working class flats;
and winged bungalows with wrap-around patios
office blocks that blocked sunlight and moonrise
of slums in their long, afternoon-shadows.

He designed homes, roofs all his working life
built walls around people, cupped hands with utmost
care, shielding other flames, other lives, built
homes to compensate for the one he had lost.

My grandfather’s dead, now gone many years
and my father’s old, lives in a flat planned
by someone else, after a  long career.
And I still don’t know what nestles in my hand,

am I digging? perhaps I am.  How should
a detached lake connect back to the flow? force
its way through the clay, cut channels into mud
join back the river that has changed its course?

H is for Handicrafts, of which India has a Huge variety, textiles, ceramics, brass and silverware, woodwork, paintings/art, stone inlays, traditional sculpture, no end to it.  However, parts of this Heritage, where skills are Handed down through the generations, are also in danger of being lost, because the work doesn't pay enough and so the younger generation must needs turn to something else. 

H is also for Heroes, and my grandfather is one of mine. He was born in the late 1800, a posthumous child, and lived into his nineties.  He saw two World Wars, and the Indian Partition and faced monumental hardships, but stayed upright.  Literally. He walked straight as a ramrod, he was a tall man, and I did not see him bend ever.  He passed away on this day many years ago.  Remembering him with great respect and love.

Posted for the A-Z Challenge 2015


  1. Great poem for G and it goes so well with your grandfather.

  2. So beautifully penned...
    Lots of love to your grandfather,, wherver he is, I m dure he will know youbhave written for him...truely. h is for home that we make,

  3. He would be honored by your memory of him.

  4. I love anything Irish. I enjoyed that poem.

    Indian handicrafts are gorgeous!

    Lovely tribute to your grandfather. :)

  5. Loved this! Beautiful tribute!!!

  6. Hi Nila - loved this tribute to your grandfather .. he sounds very special ... as to your father ... and are you holding memories to search out in your hand ..

    With thoughts today .. cheers Hilary

  7. Phew a name I know. . . As it happens I know the daughter of Ted Hughes quite well she lives about 8 miles away. So had you picked him I could have said . . . Ah well of course it just so happens

  8. I always admire people who can compose poetry and you have incorporated such details and a beautiful story into verse. It's really commendable : )
    Glad I came here via the a-z challenge

  9. I would describe your poetry as heart-filling. My chest seems to expand when I read it.

  10. Your poetry is wonderful! *sighs*
    It stirs me... moves me... as the commenter above mentioned.... it's heart-filling.
    Your grandfather sounds like he was an exceptional human being.

    Have you published a poetry anthology yet?
    (You should publish these 2015 A to Z posts in a poetry compilation)


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