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Seamus Heaney


                    1. A Suit

"I'll make you one," he said, "and balance it
Perfectly on you." And I could almost feel
The plumb line of the creased tweed hit my heel,

My shoulders like a spar or a riding scale
Under the jacket, my whole shape realigned
In ways that suited me down to the ground.

So although a suit was the last thing that I needed
I wore his words and told him that I'd take it
And told myself it was going for a song.

                            2. A Tie

                           She made
                           me one
                           of hard
                           silk thread,
                           tight skein
                           by hand,
                           and strict
                           as cyng-
                           all a-
                           like rain
                           on fern
                           or em-
                           erald ems
                           or fine
                           ground jade,
                           my thin
                           green line
                           for which
                           I grat-
                           in Lat-
                           in quotes
                           (with gen-
                           der change
                           in sub-
                           ject and
                           tense change
                           in verb):
                           quod non
                           and trans-
                           late thus
                           (to tie
                           the knot),
                           "She puts
                           a shine
                           on all
                           she puts
                           her hand
                           to." Love
                           and thanks
                           to her.

                              3. A Coat

"We're not a mile off it," I heard him say, with an ought
Dragging and lengthening out the sound of that "not" —
For Mr Simpson, though he worked in Magherafelt,
Was from Antrim and glottal and more of a Pict than a Celt.

But an Ulsterman. An Ulsterman for sure,
Calling a spade a spade and the door the dure
And any child he was fitting with clothes the wean.
My father poked his cattle-dealer's cane

Into the coats on the coatrack for the only one
That took his fancy and when I had put it on,
"We're not a mile off it," Mr Simpson said again,
Uneager and sure of the sale; and confidentially then,

"Ulster, you know, is the name for an overcoat.
The Oxford English Dictionary even gives it.
Ulster." He paused and he mused. "All over the world
Good cloth and good wear and the whole of your money's

I hear him still when I reach deep into the long
Cold draught of the sleeve of some ulster I'm fitting on
And wish my hand would come through and beyond all that
Deep glottal purchase and worth, like the virtual flight

Of The Red Hand of Ulster beyond the beyond of its myth,
Back to its unbloodied cuff at its unsevered wrist,
Flexing its fingers again and combing the air
And a wild, post-Shakespearean streel of gallowglass hair.

© Seamus Heaney
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