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Why do you stand looking up towards heaven?

Lightenings viii
The annals say: when the monks of Clonmacnoise
Were all at prayers inside the oratory
A ship appeared above them in the air. The anchor dragged along behind so deep
It hooked itself into the altar rails
And then, as the big hull rocked to a standstill, A crewman shinned and grappled down the rope
And struggled to release it. But in vain.
‘This man can’t bear our life here and will drown,’ The abbot said, ‘unless we help him.’ So
They did, the freed ship sailed, and the man climbed back
Out of the marvellous as he had known it. Seamus Heaney – Selected Poems by Seamus Heaney
From “Seeing Things”, 1991
© Seamus Heaney

To cite this section
MLA style: Poetry. Nobel Media AB 2020.  Fri. 22 May 2020. <>

Seamus Heaney's poem turns the story of the Ascension, for me, upside down. I like that because it makes me think differently, a bit askance, at what we have received. We are accus…
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