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Picture 10425862, photograph by Anita Schiffer, 1998, image copyright Mary Evans / Interfoto

Setting Out
by Maureen Boyle


i.m. Seamus Heaney, 30 August 2013


That morning our house was at its most alive

full of the busyness of the end of summer

the windows lit by the pinks and reds of flowers

at their most vivid in that Lammas light

deepest just before they fall.

We would have spoken of you

with the painter come to paint the shelter

for the winter logs – himself the brother of a poet.

And then into the light and laughter

– the phone call and the news.


Later on, I’d picture you a kind of Tollund man

spiriting yourself up and out across the bog,

storing your bundle of soul-clothes,

as you’d seen the turf cutters do with your father

but this time having no fear of the plashy wet,

the tell-tale places of purple water mint.

Lightened and buoyed across the causey

through a meadow of bog cotton/asphodels

you go with long clean strides to meet your father

and hold him properly this time.



© Maureen Boyle

Picture 10425862, photograph by Anita Schiffer, 1998, image copyright Mary Evans / Interfoto



Maureen Boyle grew up in Sion Mills in County Tyrone, Northern Ireland.  She studied English and History at Trinity College, Dublin, and in 2005 was awarded the Master’s in Creative Writing at Queen’s University Belfast. She has won various awards including the Ireland Chair of Poetry Prize, the Strokestown International Poetry Prize, the inaugural Ireland Chair of Poetry Travel Bursary and the Fish Short Memoir Prize. She has received support from the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in the form of Individual Arts, Aces and Travel Awards. In January 2019 a long poem, ‘Strabane’, was broadcast on BBC Radio 4 in ‘Conversations on a Bench’ and was published in 2020 as a single poem by Arlen House Press, Dublin, with photographs by Malachi O’Doherty. Her debut collection, The Work of a Winter (Arlen House, 2018), is in its second edition and was shortlisted for the Strong Shine Award. She taught Creative Writing with the Open University for ten years and English in St Dominic’s Grammar School in Belfast until retiring last year. Her second full collection The Last Spring of the World is just published with Arlen House.


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