“Hope and History Rhyme”

With a hat tip to Jonah, I wanted to share an amazing Seamus Heaney poem that sums up the week… both the giant victory we won, and the “Yes We Cans” of future years.

The Cure at Troy

Human beings suffer,
they torture one another,
they get hurt and get hard.
No poem or play or song
can fully right a wrong
inflicted or endured.

The innocent in gaols
beat on their bars together.
A hunger-striker’s father
stands in the graveyard dumb.
The police widow in veils
faints at the funeral home.

History says, Don’t hope
on this side of the grave.
But then, once in a lifetime
the longed for tidal wave
of justice can rise up,
and hope and history rhyme.

So hope for a great sea-change
on the far side of revenge.
Believe that a further shore
is reachable from here.
Believe in miracles
and cures and healing wells.

I tried to post this three times today but every time I read the poem again, especially that penultimate stanza, my eyes welled with tears. I was lucky enough to see Heaney in person once; the range of his deep brogue — whisper to bellow, high bell to bass — mirrors the full gamut of the human experience he catalogues in his poetry.  If you’ve missed his voice, seek it out.

1 thought on ““Hope and History Rhyme””

  1. VP-elect Joe Biden when he was on the campaign trail for his own presidency run use to quote the third stanza at nearly every event. Is that where you got the inspiration to post this from?

Comments are closed.