Seamus Heaney


The drumming started in the cool of the evening, as if the dome
of air were lightly hailed on. But no. The drumming murmured
from beneath that drum.
        The drumming didn’t murmur, rather hammered. Sound-
smiths found a rhythm gradually. On the far bench of the hills
tuns and ingots were being beaten thin.
        The hills were a bellied sound-box resinating, a low dyke
against diurnal roar, a tidal wave that stayed, that still might
        Through red seas of July the Orange drummers led a cho-
sen people through their dream. Dilations and engorgings,
contrapuntal; slashers in shirt-sleeves, collared in the sunset,
policemen flanking them like anthracite.
        The air grew dark, clouds-barred, a butcher’s apron. The
night hushed like a white-mothed reach of water, miles down-
stream from the battle, a skein of blood still lazing in the