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Monday, June 26, 2006

Reader's Diary #114- Seamus Heaney: Selected Poems 1966-1987 (up to "Station Island")

There's a line in Bob Seger's "Against the Wind" that goes, "wish I didn't know now what I didn't know then." Apparently he's grown to dislike the lyric, yet acknowledges that it resonates with a lot of people. There's a similar line in Heaney's "The Railway Children": "We were small and thought we knew nothing worth knowing." It's not as direct as Seger's, but there's a definite connection. The key to Heaney's sentiment is in the word "thought". It is obvious that the voice (Heaney's or not) presents a slightly different take than the Seger lyric. While Seger's claim is that young people are essentially ignorant (yet blissful), Heaney's claim is that children are not as ignorant as they think they are. Nice little psychological debate, eh?

Putting Seger (thankfully) aside for the time being- "The Railway Children" is a rare poem in this collection- rare because I actually like love it. It'll be photocopied and added to ye old binder for sure. Why do I like it so much? I'll start with the reference to the wisdom of children- as a teacher (who's moving to IQALUIT by the way!) I have to, and do, believe that children are wiser than we (or they) usually give credit. Furthermore, it's full of hope and such beautiful imagery that it makes you believe that the way children look at the world is maybe more poetic than adults- and maybe they're onto something.

4 comments:

Barbara Bruederlin said...

What? What? What? You're moving to Iqaluit? When? Why? Are you excited?

I don't spend much time with small children, but I can tell you that teenagers are both very very wise and very stupid at the same time. I hope the kids in Iqaluit teach you many good things.

John Mutford said...

Moving at the end of July. As you may or may not know, I had lived in Nunavut before and I guess it hasn't left me.

chuck said...

That song gets to me...gets me choked up...don't know why.

John Mutford said...

Chuck, Yeah for a guy who sings mostly blue collar rock, he's certainly not a working class hero as much as he is a fellow downer! My favourite Seger cover btw, is by Kirstie Alley as Rebecca on Cheers. She was horribly drunk and singing it to Sam. It was supposed to be funny, but something about it captured the desperation in those lyrics better than Seger was ever able.