Friday, August 30, 2013

Seamus Heaney (1939-2013) - The Tollundman/The Grauballeman

constructed scukll of the Grauballeman, Moesgaard Museum, Aarhus/ photo gb.

Seamus Heaney wrote also about the Grauballeman, who lies in Moesgaard Museum in Aarhus. The Tollundman lies in Silkeborg Museum, but Seamus Heaney changed it to Aarhus in his poem, because he meant it sounded better.

The Tollundman

The Tollundman, photo stig bachmann nielsen,


Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head,
The mild pods of his eye-lids,
His pointed skin cap.

In the flat country near by
Where they dug him out,
His last gruel of winter seeds
Caked in his stomach,

Naked except for
The cap, noose and girdle,
I will stand a long time.
Bridegroom to the goddess,

She tightened her torc on him
And opened her fen,
Those dark juices working
Him to a saint's kept body,

Trove of the turfcutters'
Honeycombed workings.
Now his stained face
Reposes at Aarhus.


I could risk blasphemy,
Consecrate the cauldron bog
Our holy ground and pray
Him to make germinate

The scattered, ambushed
Flesh of labourers,
Stockinged corpses
Laid out in the farmyards,

Tell-tale skin and teeth
Flecking the sleepers
Of four young brothers, trailed
For miles along the lines.


Something of his sad freedom
As he rode the tumbril
Should come to me, driving,
Saying the names

Tollund, Grauballe, Nebelgard,

Watching the pointing hands
Of country people,
Not knowing their tongue.

Out here in Jutland
In the old man-killing parishes
I will feel lost,
Unhappy and at home.

Seamus Heaney
13. April 1939 - 30. August 2013.

1 comment:

Teresa Evangeline said...

I missed seeing this post before! I love his work ... a sad loss for poetry. Thank you for posting this.