Home > Poetry > Nonce Words
Seamus Heaney
Published: Tue Apr 15 2003
Art: Paul TheriaultEver New (detail), 2022, acrylic and found paper on scavenged wood
Nonce Words

The road taken
to bypass Cavan
took me west,
(a sign mistaken)
so at Derrylin
I turned east.

Sun on ice,
white floss
on reed and bush,
the bridge cast
in an advent silence
I drove across,

then pulled in,
parked and sat
breathing mist
on the windscreen.
Requiescat . . .
I got out

well happed up,
stood at the frozen
shore gazing
at rimed horizon,
my first stop
like this in years.

And blessed myself
in the name of the nonce
and happenstance,
the Who knows
and What nexts
and So be its.

See what's inside AGNI 57

Seamus Heaney (1939–2013) wrote some of the most revered poems of his time and published them in twelve collections, from 1966’s Death of a Naturalist to 2010’s Human Chain. He received the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995. A former Boylston Professor of Rhetoric and Oratory at Harvard University, he lived in Dublin, Ireland, until his death in August 2013. His association with AGNI spanned three decades.

Heaney’s book of prose essays The Government of Tongue: The 1986 T. S. Eliot Memorial Essays was reviewed in AGNI 31/32 by Eamon Grennan.

Order AGNI’s limited-edition broadside of “Saw Music,” first published in AGNI 61 as part of the triptych “Out of This World” and later reprinted in his acclaimed collection District and Circle.

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