HEANEY—BOG PEOPLE. Seamus Heaney has special meaning for me because of his poems about bog and peat. (The Sidestep essay I linked to yesterday refers to Heaney’s “obsession with peat bogs.”) I have long thought of my ancestors on both sides as bog people. My father was primarily Irish and my mother was primarily Danish. Seamus Heaney writes of Ireland, but he begins his poem on the bogman, Tollund man, in Aarhus, which is the city in Denmark where my mother’s people lived. Our family went to an exhibit on bogs at the Norwalk Aquarium some years ago. The kids thrilled to the exhibit on the bogey man, the bog man, with one of Heaney’s poems posted on the wall. There was a peat fire, giving off the only peat smoke I have ever smelled. I still imagine the smell of that peat fire when I drink Laphroaig.

Here is a link to Seamus Heaney reading “Tollund Man”, which begins;
“Some day I will go to Aarhus
To see his peat-brown head….

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7 Responses to HEANEY—BOG PEOPLE.

  1. Nick says:

    This is great. I wanted to go to Aarhus when I was in Denmark although it wouldn’t have been feasible on such short notice.

    So much of the Irish way of live seems to be invested in the soggy Earth. Looking through Irish poets as much as I have you really start to see that as a pattern.

    In a week I will get to see a lot of Seamus Heaney’s manuscripts in person at the Emory Library.

  2. Mary Jane Schaefer says:

    When Philip is drinking Laphroaigh, he needn’t use his imagination at all to summon up a bog.

  3. Lee says:

    Let’s hope that no bog people met their end in Laphroaig’s peat bog.

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