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About this Poem 

“Scaffolding” appears in Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996​ (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1999).

Scaffolding

Masons, when they start upon a building,
Are careful to test out the scaffolding;

Make sure that planks won’t slip at busy points,
Secure all ladders, tighten bolted joints.

And yet all this comes down when the job’s done
Showing off walls of sure and solid stone.

So if, my dear, there sometimes seem to be
Old bridges breaking between you and me

Never fear. We may let the scaffolds fall
Confident that we have built our wall.

"Scaffolding" from Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996​ by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.

"Scaffolding" from Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966–1996​ by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.

Seamus Heaney

Seamus Heaney

Born in Ireland in 1939, Seamus Heaney was the author of numerous poetry collections, including Human Chain (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010). He split his time between Dublin, Ireland, and Boston, where he taught at Harvard University for many years. In 1995, Heaney received the Nobel Prize in Literature.

by this poet

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Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses

Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding

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And some time make the time to drive out west
Into County Clare, along the Flaggy Shore,
In September or October, when the wind
And the light are working off each other
So that the ocean on one side is wild
With foam and glitter, and inland among stones
The surface of a slate-grey lake

poem

in memory of Joseph Brodsky

Joseph, yes, you know the beat.
Wystan Auden’s metric feet
Marched to it, unstressed and stressed,
Laying William Yeats to rest.

Therefore, Joseph, on this day,
Yeats’s anniversary,
(Double-crossed and death-marched date,
January twenty-