Seamus Heaney

Gifts of Rain

Cloudburst and steady downpour now
for days.
                Still mammal,
straw-footed on the mud,
he begins to sense weather
by his skin.
A nimble snout of flood
licks over stepping stones
and goes uprooting.
                                   He fords
his life by sounding.
A man wading lost fields
breaks the pane of flood:
a flower of mud-
water blooms up to his reflection
like a cut swaying
its red spoors through a basin.
His hands grub
where the spade has uncastled
sunken drills, an atlantis
he depends on. So
he is hooped to where he planted
and sky and ground
are running naturally among his arms
that grope the cropping land.
When rains were gathering
there would be an all-night
roaring off the ford.
Their world-schooled ear
could monitor the usual
confabulations, the race
slabbering past the gable,
the Moyola harping on
its gravel beds:
all spouts by daylight
brimmed with their own airs
and overflowed each barrel
in long tresses.
I cock my ear
at an absence —
in the shared calling of blood
arrives my need
for antediluvian lore.
Soft voice of the dead
are whispering by the shore
that I would question
(and for my children’s sake)
about crops rotted, river mud
glazing the baked clay floor.

The tawny guttural water
spells itself: Moyola
is its own score and consort,
bedding the locale
in the utterance,
reed music, an old chanter
breathing its mists
through vowels and history.
A swollen river,
a mating call of sound
rises to pleasure me, Dives,
hoarder of common ground.