Seamus Heaney

The Wanderer

In a semicircle we toed the line chalked round the master’s desk
and on a day when the sun was incubating milktops and warm-
ing the side of the jam jar where the bean had split its stitches,
he called me forward and crossed my palm with silver. ‘At the
end of the holidays this man’s going away to Derry, so this is
for him, for winning the scholarship…We all wish him good
luck. Now, back to your places.’
      I have wandered far from that ring-giver and would not
renegue on this migrant solitude. I have seen halls in flames,
hearts in cinders, the benches filled and emptied, the circles of
companions called and broken. That day I was a rich young
man, who could tell you now of flittings, night-vigils, let-downs,
women’s cried-out eyes.