The Little Canticles of Asturias


And then at midnight as we started to descend

Into the burning valley of Gijon,

Into its blacks and crimsons, in medias res,

It was as if my own face burned again

In front of the fanned-up lip and crimson maw

Of a pile of newspapers lit long ago

One windy evening, breaking off and away

In flame-posies, small airborne fire-ships

Endangering the house-thatch and the stacks –

For we almost panicked there in the epic blaze

Of those furnaces and hot refineries

Where the night shift worked on in their element

And we lost all hope of reading the map right

And gathered speed and cursed the hellish roads.


Seamus Heaney


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