This is one of my favorite Seamus Heaney poems. It brings together myth, fairy tale, and profound desire in one glorious, tightly constructed presentation. What’s not to love?
There we were in the vaulted tunnel running,
You in your going-away coat speeding ahead
And me, me then like a fleet god gaining
Upon you before you turned to a reed
Or some new white flower japped with crimson
As the coat flapped wide and button after button
Sprang off and fell in a trail
Between the Underground and the Albert Hall.
Honeymooning, moonlighting, late from the Proms,
Our echoes die in that corridor and now
I come as Hansel came on the moonlit stones
Retracing the path back, lifting the buttons
To end up in a draughty lamplit station
After the trains have gone, the wet track
Bared and tensed as I am, all attention
For your step following and damned if I look back.
Seamus Heaney (born April 13, 1939, near Castledàwson, County Londonderry, Northern Ireland—died August 30, 2013, Dublin, Ireland) was an Irish poet whose work is notable for its evocation of Irish rural life and events in Irish history as well as for its allusions to Irish myth. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. His translation of the epic poem Beowulf is possibly my favorite ever, and my friend Patricia McMahon once told me she considers him her family’s personal poetry god.