The Boat

Bernard O'Donoghue. Illustration: Dearbhla Kelly

Bernard O'Donoghue. Illustration: Dearbhla Kelly

Sat, Feb 15, 2014, 01:00

i.m. Seamus Heaney

Take the case of a man in a boat
in deep water. The wind and the waves
and the craft’s tossing cause him to stumble
if he makes to stand up, for, no matter how firmly
he tries to hold on, through the boat’s slithering
he bends and he staggers, so unstable
the body is. And yet he is safe.

It’s the same with the righteous:
if they fall, they are falling only
like a man in a boat who is safe and sound
as long as he stays within the boat’s timbers.

Piers Plowman, passus 8
 

Bernard O’Donoghue’s sixth collection, Farmers Cross, was shortlisted for the Irish Times Poetry Now Award and TS Eliot Prize