By Bernie Bell
We recently watched a ( recorded) programme about Seamus Heaney, entitled ‘Seamus Heaney and the Music of What Happens’. Seamus Heaney and his family lived in Northern Ireland, during the ‘Troubles’ – a time when, if you were in the wrong place, wrong time – you could get shot.
In this programme his wife, Marie, read out a poem which he wrote for her………
Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;
Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.
And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.
So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me
Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.
This reminded me of a poem which Mike wrote, for me….
The two old oaks stand on the bank and grow
More close as each succeeding year goes by
Their boughs reach out and touch as sap doth flow
And now at last entwine and softly sigh
So why, my Dear, do I think now of you?
So quick, alive and full of deeds and words
Is it, perhaps, the play of light and hue
Of leaf and trunk and branch alive with birds?
Or else their stately steadfast standing firm
Is like your certain loving nature, strong
As we together grow in love full term
And dream deep-rooted love that lasts so long
Now truth there is in all these words above
But more, I know that we’ll grow old in love
Then, we watched the first of a series by Grayson Perry https://www.channel4.com/press/news/graysons-art-club in which Grayson speaks of portraiture, and does a series of drawings of his wife, Philippa, culminating in a portrait on a plate.
He says that lock-down, and these times that we’re living through – when, if you’re in the wrong place, wrong time, you might catch a bug which can kill you – could be a time to re-assess and look at how we are with who we live with.
I think we’re doing that. I can’t speak for Mike, but I know that I’m doing that – re-assessing and appreciating what we have, and so, those two poems connected, in my mind.
The scaffolding of the early times has gone, it’s no longer needed – the wall stands, and the oaks stand.
If we can just manage to …stand… for the next few months. No – the next few months isn’t all that matters – what stands, stands. It’s just …there. Part of LIFE.
‘Life’s a GAS’ – Marc Bolan