Seamus Heaney—”The Underground”

There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
Upon you before you turned to a reed

Or some new white flower japped with crimson
As the coat flapped wild and button after button
Sprang off and fell in a trail
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall.

Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms,
Our echoes die in that corridor and now
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons

To end up in a draughty lamplit station
After the trains have gone, the wet track
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
For your step following and damned if I look back.

By Mark Newton

Born in 1981, live in the UK. I write about strange things.

5 replies on “Seamus Heaney—”The Underground””

I liked how Seamus explains the poem in an article on Utube: But he decided instead to plump for The Underground, which sees he and his wife “Honeymooning, moonlighting, late for the Proms”, running down the corridor from the underground to the Royal Albert Hall, Heaney imagining himself as an Orpheus who won’t look back, and therefore keeps his bride.

“Marie and I were then on our honeymoon and as well as calling with my editor in Russell Square, we went to a Promenade concert in the Albert Hall, by the underground, of course, Marie in her white going away coat that had received a beetroot stain in the Museum Tavern the night before, both of us late and running down the corridor,” Heaney said, telling guests he was reading it “in gratitude for all that London and the people I have known in London have given by way of literary inspiration and confirmation.”

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