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    Seamus Heaney - Oysters

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    poetictouch

    by poetictouch

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    Seamus Heaney reads his poem Oysters at the Griffin Poetry Prize awards ceremony in Toronto on 6 June 2012, before winning The Griffin Lifetime Recognition Award.

    Oysters
    by Seamus Heaney (1939-)

    Our shells clacked on the plates.
    My tongue was a filling estuary,
    My palate hung with starlight:
    As I tasted the salty Pleiades
    Orion dipped his foot into the water.

    Alive and violated
    They lay on their beds of ice:
    Bivalves: the split bulb
    And philandering sigh of ocean.
    Millions of them ripped and shucked and scattered.

    We had driven to the coast
    Through flowers and limestone
    And there we were, toasting friendship,
    Laying down a perfect memory
    In the cool thatch and crockery.

    Over the Alps, packed deep in hay and snow,
    The Romans hauled their oysters south to Rome:
    I saw damp panniers disgorge
    The frond-lipped, brine-stung
    Glut of privilege

    And was angry that my trust could not repose
    In the clear light, like poetry or freedom
    Leaning in from the sea. I ate the day
    Deliberately, that its tang
    Might quicken me all into verb, pure verb.