A Herbal

A sequence of 19 short poems, the longest 15 lines, imitating the work of a 20th century Breton poet. The foreword’s after suggests that Heaney, in addition to the poetic shape and form of the genre, may be offering his version of lines from the original.  The sequence produces plants with human voices, emotions and characteristics operating in natural context. Heaney is intimately involved as translator and communicator.  1 Heaney stresses a paradox: Nature is eternally self-renewing, growing thick wherever it may Flourish; mankind is mortal and consigned ultimately to graves. The different strata of earth beneath cemeteries in general (Everywhere) are a kind of time-line of past generations, from whom the plants gain their nourishment, Sinking their roots/ In all the dynasties/ Of the dead. […]