Friday, August 24, 2012

Yesterday's class....

I already have forgotten how it came up, the debate between whether it is skinning or peeling potatoes.  Yet it sparked a memory of Seamus Heaney's poem in memory of his mother: from Clearances 3, a sonnet:

When all the others were away at Mass 
In Memoriam M.K.H., 1911-1984 

When all the others were away at Mass 
I was all hers as we peeled potatoes. 
They broke the silence, let fall one by one 
Like solder weeping off the soldering iron: 
Cold comforts set between us, things to share 
Gleaming in a bucket of clean water. 
And again let fall. Little pleasant splashes 
From each other's work would bring us to our senses. 

So while the parish priest at her bedside 
Went hammer and tongs at the prayers for the dying 
And some were responding and some crying 
I remembered her head bent towards my head, 
Her breath in mine, our fluent dipping knives-- 
Never closer the whole rest of our lives.

From Clearances 3
By Seamus Heaney

The alliteration of peeling potatoes wins over the violent and harshsounding skinning.  We think of diction - the word choices a poet makes.  

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