Grotus and Coventina

Grotus and Coventina

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Today, a poem:

Grotus and Coventina

Far from home Grotus dedicated an altar to Coventina
Who holds in her right hand a waterweed
And in her left a pitcher spilling out a river.
Anywhere Grotus looked at running water he felt at home
And when he remembered the stone where he cut his name
Some dried-up course beneath his breastbone started
Pouring and darkening—more or less the way
The thought of his stunted altar works on me.
Remember when our electric pump gave out,
Priming it with bucketfuls, our idiotic rage
And hangdog phone-calls to the farm next door
For somebody please to come and fix it?
And when it began to hammer on again,
Jubilation at the tap’s full force, the sheer
Given fact of water, how you felt you’d never
Waste one drop but know its worth better always.
Do you think we could run through all that one more time?
I’ll be Grotus, you be Coventina.

Seamus Heaney

I sought out this poem after reading one of Seamus Heaney’s own accounts of it in Interviews with Seamus Heaney, Stepping Stones by Dennis O’Driscoll.

To quote Heaney; ‘When you say the words Grotus and Coventina, you get immediate aural and oral pleasure, the consonants and vowels melt in your mouth like hard-boiled soft-centred sweets..’

I think it is a perfectly beautiful poem about love, family life and water. Try reading it a few times, you can see and hear the water.

I wouldn’t say that I am a huge poetry fan, but my mum brought be the above book to read recently and reading all the interviews with Seamus Heaney made me recall some magical english literature classes. Once I even won a ‘Seamus Heaney’ award, which was fittingly a potato! I remember it meant so much to me, I couldn’t bring myself to throw it away for months.

If anyone has been reading some great poetry recently I would love to hear about it.

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