After "L'Aquilone" by Giovanni Pascoli (1855-1912)
Air from another life and time and place, Pale blue heavenly air is supporting A white wing beating high against the breeze, And yes, it is a kite! As when one afternoon All of us there trooped out Among the briar hedges and stripped thorn, I take my stand again, halt opposite Anahorish Hill to scan the blue, Back in that field to launch our long-tailed comet. And now it hovers, tugs, veers, dives askew, Lifts itself, goes with the wind until It rises to loud cheers from us below. Rises, and my hand is like a spindle Unspooling, the kite a thin-stemmed flower Climbing and carrying, carrying farther, higher The longing in the breast and planted feet And gazing face and heart of the kite flier Until string breaks and—separate, elate— The kite takes off, itself alone, a windfall.
Excerpted from Human Chain by Seamus Heaney. Published in September 2010 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux, LLC. Copyright © 2010 by Seamus Heaney. All rights reserved.