Beginning a Poem with a Line By Heaney

To flood, with vowelling embrace,
a page agape at my pen’s impudence,
is to leave wounds of words upon its face,
carved with the sharp and flat of consonants.
Blood is ink dried in thirsty lines and margins,
annotated stanzas, editor’s cut and thrust.
All the while my stack of notebooks burgeons,
shrouded in poetry and dust.

Kim M. Russell, 2018

Image result for Seamus Heaney first drafts of A New Song with annotation
Annotated draft of ‘Child Lost’ by Seamus Heaney found on the National Library of Ireland website – sadly I couldn’t find a first draft of  ‘A New Song’,

My response to The Poetry School NaPoWriMo prompt for Day 12: Poem Beginning with a Line By…, also posting on dVerse Poets Pub Meeting the Bar: Ars Poetica.

Today’s task is to write a poem beginning with a line by someone else. Ali says that there is a long tradition of these and they’re a good way of paying homage to a poet or poem you love, but they also work simply as a jumping off point to talk about something else entirely. Today’s example poems are ‘Poem beginning with two lines by André Breton‘ by Peter Sirr and Ross Gay’s ‘Poem Beginning With a Line Overheard in the Gym‘.

‘To flood, with vowelling embrace’ has been taken from ‘A New Song’ by Seamus Heaney.


38 thoughts on “Beginning a Poem with a Line By Heaney

  1. Ah….good one! Especiall these words for me: “a page agape at my pen’s impudence,”
    And oh my yes….I have a cupboard full of notebooks with poems, parts, ideas, scratch outs, scribbles, rhyme lists….kind of like a used auto shop except they’re each a “floor” of my used poetry shop! 🙂

    Liked by 2 people

    1. Thank you, Lill! The Poetry School’s poets are extremely critical and pull everything to pieces. They very rarely find nothing. So I was pleased that they didn’t tea anything off this one!


  2. I love this and the image, and that is how it was…writing them out endlessly to get the perfectly written end product……I still have some handwritten versions of old ghosts that I fancied might someday see the light…XXX

    Liked by 1 person

    1. My notebooks are in a cabinet next to my desk. My writing is so bad now even I can’t always read it! I do ‘re same as you, Frank. Any words, phrases or lines I jot down are transferred to the laptop as soon as possible.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Love the starting point, which is a good process but the whole output is uniquely yours Kim ~ I used to keep notebooks too but now I just put them in draft mode of my blogs ~ Keep your notebooks but blow off the dust and share them someday ~ Take care ~

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Grace. I do transfer my scribbles of ideas, words, phrases,lines, and even whole stanzas sometimes, to a Word file but I love the look and feel of a notebook and it’s handy to have one in case something pops into my head!


  4. I like how physical and visceral you made this, the making of a poem. It is not all hearts and butterflies as non-poets like to romanticize “writing poetry.” Personally, it’s rare that I ever even see one of those fluttering things. Great write, Kim!

    Liked by 1 person

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