First deep snorkel

For Valentine's Day, here's Seamus Heaney's "The Conway Stewart," which appears in his collection, Human Chain. Ah, fountain pens and parting.

Seamus Heaney, "Human Chain"


  1. I often feel dumb reading poetry. What does "To them, next day." mean?

    1. Me, too! This is me being pretentious!

      To answer your question, I'm quoting Nick Laird's review in the Guardian:

      The poems are preoccupied with connection and separation. In “The Conway Stewart”, the parental gift of a fountain pen deflects the imminent detachment it marks: the young Heaney’s departure to boarding school. The shopkeeper demonstrating its “pump-action lever” and treating it to its “first deep snorkel / In a newly opened ink-bottle” allows the family group “time / To look together and away / From our parting”, but it also preserves an attachment: he writes in his “longhand / ‘Dear’ / To them, next day.”

      Di pala pang-Valentine's ito.

    2. Whaaa...! That makes the 5th and 6th stanzas clearer now but how is one to deduce that without knowing the context beforehand? I guess I'd have to read it a coupla dozen times to even come close to the meaning and I don't have the patience for that.


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