This morning my wife told me about the upcoming exhibit of Seamus Heaney materials at Emory University. A kite will fly above the spiral staircase near the exhibit because the last poem in his last published book (Human Chain) features a kite. The poem reminds me of students who are learning to write for themselves, from themselves. On their behalf, I have copied Heaney’s poem below.
A KITE FOR AIBHIN
After “L’Aquilone” by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912)
Air from another life and time and place,
Pale blue heavenly air is supporting
A white wing beating high against the breeze,
And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon
All of us there trooped out
Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn,
I take my stand again, halt opposite
Anahorish Hill to scan the blue,
Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet.
And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew,
Lifts itself, goes with the wind until
It rises to loud cheers from us below.
Rises, and my hand is like a spindle
Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower
climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher
The longing in the breast and planted feet
And gazing face and heart of the kite flier
Until string breaks and–separate, elate–
The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.