by Seamus Heaney
When I lie on the ground
I rise flushed as a rose in the morning.
In fights I arrange a fall on the ring
To rub myself with sand.
That is operative
As an elixir. I cannot be weaned
Off the earth's long contour, her river-veins.
Down here in my cave
Girded with root and rock
I am cradled in the dark that wombed me
And nurtured in every artery
Like a small hillock.
Let each new hero come
Seeking the golden apples and Atlas:
He must wrestle with me before he pass
Into that realm of fame
AMong sky-born and royal.
He may well throw me and renew my birth
But let him not plan, lifting me off the earth,
My elevation, my fall.
I took a course on Heaney in college. He is one of the most interesting poets I've studied. He has a brilliant command of language but is very down-to-earth. He is both very accesible and very inaccessable at the same time. Antaeus is one of my favorites because it shows the paradox of Heaney's writing so well. At fist glance we see a poem about the mythical Antaeus who was defeated by Hurculles. However, when you read this poem in the context of the rest of Heaney's poetry at the time you can see it as a comentary on his own writing. Just as Antaeus gains his strength from the earth, Heaney's poetry had a strong relationship with landscape and the natural world. It is as Heaney is writing Antaeus that the poet begins to come into conflict with his naturalist style. Just as Hurcules lifts up Antaeus into the sky Heaney's poetry is taken in a new direction.