The Play Way

Seamus Heaney


Sunlight pillars through glass, probes each desk
For milktops. Drinking straws and old dry crusts.
The music strides to challenge it
Mixing memory and desire with chalk dust.

My lesson notes read: Teacher will play
Beethoven’s Concerto Number Five
And class will express themselves freely
In writing. One said ”Can we jive?”

When I produced the record, but now
The big sound has silenced them. Higher
And firmer, each authoritative note
Pumps the classroom up tight as a tire

Working its private spell behind eyes
That stare wide. They have forgotten me
For once. The pens are busy, the tongues mime
Their blundering embrace of the free

Word. A silence charged with sweetness
Breaks short on lost faces where I see
New looks. Then notes stretch taunt as snares. They trip
To fall into themselves unknowingly.


___________________________________________________________________________________

Source: The Norton Anthology of Poetry (3. edition) (1970) W.W.Norton & Company New york London. Illustration.

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