In a Field

Seamus Heaney

What may have been Seamus Heaney's final poem, a
"heartbreakingly prescient" reflection on the first world war,
has been published for the first time by the

And there I was in the middle of a field,

The furrows once called "scores' still with their gloss,

The tractor with its hoisted plough just gone

Snarling at an unexpected speed

Out on the road. Last of the jobs,

The windings had been ploughed, furrows turned

Three ply or four round each of the four sides

Of the breathing land, to mark it off

And out. Within that boundary now

Step the fleshy earth and follow

The long healed footprints of one who arrived

From nowhere, unfamiliar and de-mobbed,

In buttoned khaki and buffed army boots,

Bruising the turned-up acres of our back field

To stumble from the windings' magic ring

And take me by a hand to lead me back

Through the same old gate into the yard

Where everyone has suddenly appeared,

All standing waiting.


Photo: © Don McCullin: "I’m probably the only person in England who’s anxious for the winter. As soon as the leaves of autumn start falling from the trees, I become reactivated, the opposite of a hibernating animal. I know that I’ve got four long months of darkness, wind and cold to exercise my masochism. The English landscape’s known for its Constable summers but I’m obsessed with photographing it in the dead of winter, at its hardest … I love the winter – not the climate, but the struggle, its abrasiveness, the nakedness of the landscape." (Photography in Context). About the poet.


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