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Sunday, August 8, 2010

Salthill Again


The swell foams where they float and crawl,
A catherine-wheel of arm and hand.
Each head bobs curtly as a football.
The yelps are faint here on the strand.

No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
Miraculous on this western shore;
A pirate queen in battle clothes
Is our sterner myth. The breakers pour

Themselves into themselves, the years
Shuttle through space invisibly.
Where crests unfurl like creamy beer
The queen's clothes melt into the sea

And generations sighing in
The salt suds where the wave has crashed
Labour in fear of flesh and sin
For the time has been accomplished

As through the shallows in swimsuits,
Brown-legged, smooth-shouldered and bare-backed
They wade ashore with skips and shouts.
So Venus comes, matter-of-fact.

Seamus Heaney


  1. love salthill - are they still building that hotel?
    I've never seen this plaque with the Heaney poem, thanks for posting it Orla. We do have stern myths don't we? Macha, Medb, Grainne (does G count as myth? I suppose if Seamus says so..!)
    I love the lines
    "No milk-limbed Venus ever rose
    Miraculous on this western shore;"
    Thanks for that - hope Galway was good to you.

  2. I think the hotels are built and the corrib great southern on the way out is vacant, think they are trying to make apartments from it, sign o'the times maybe.

    I don't think grainne is a myth now no :)

    There is another poem there now too, the lamplighter by Martin O'Direain.

    Do you know Botticelli's The Birth of Venus painting?

  3. Yes.I know Botticelli's Birth Of Venus, he does such beautiful faces, i've a stone sculpture of her in my failed herb patch!
    its funny but now that you mention it, i'd an inkling of a poem about my teenage daughter as venus stealing my makeup...only realised now that it germinated in the Heaney poem you posted....!

  4. I wrote a poem a few years ago called She Saw Venus. It sounds like you could have something nice there! It's making me think now too.

  5. I was reading that poem and I wondered what it reminded me of. The Beatles "Across the Universe". Runs the same. Or almost the same.