Poem of the Day: Requiem for the Croppies

Here’s a new series of posts that I’m really excited about.  As his students may remember, Jim starts off his classes reading a poem.  This is a treasured memory for me: not only does Jim have incredible taste in modern poetry, but he’s masterful at reading poetry to others.

Jim has kindly sent me some of his poetry selections and I’m going to start posting them.  I hope it inspires both Jim Shepard fans and aspiring fiction writers to read more poetry, something Jim has always encouraged us to do.

Requiem for the Croppies

The pockets of our greatcoats full of barley…
No kitchens on the run, no striking camp…
We moved quick and sudden in our own country.
The priest lay behind ditches with the tramp.
A people hardly marching… on the hike…
We found new tactics happening each day:
We’d cut through reins and rider with the pike
And stampede cattle into infantry,
Then retreat through hedges where cavalry must be thrown.
Until… on Vinegar Hill… the final conclave.
Terraced thousands died, shaking scythes at cannon.
The hillside blushed, soaked in our broken wave.
They buried us without shroud or coffin
And in August… the barley grew up out of our grave.

-Seamus Heaney

 

If you’re interested in learning more about rich history behind the poem, here’s a good blog post on the topic.

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