Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Seamus Heaney: Chorus from The Cure at Troy


Human beings suffer,
They torture one another,
They get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
Can fully right a wrong
Inflicted and endured.

The innocent in gaols
Beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker's father
Stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
Faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don't hope
On this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
The longed-for tidal wave
Of justice can rise up,
And hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
On the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
Is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
And cures and healing wells.

Call miracle self-healing:
The utter, self-revealing
Double-take of feeling.
If there's fire on the mountain
Or lightning and storm
And a god speaks from the sky

That means someone is hearing
The outcry and the birth-cry
Of new life at its term.

Chorus from The Cure at Troy by Seamus Heaney. Text as published in The Cure at Troy: A Version of Sophocles' Philoctetes (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1991 reprint edition).

Art credit: "Beautiful Mountain Lightning Kyukw," wallpaper by unknown photographer.

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