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Rats

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  • cathie
    Reading The Plague last night reminded me of a poem my son studied at school last year for his GCSE exam. It is written by Seamus Heaney a contemporary
    Message 1 of 1 , Jan 31, 2003
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      Reading 'The Plague' last night reminded me of a poem my son studied at school last year for his GCSE exam. It is written by Seamus Heaney a contemporary Irish poet who uses lots of 'ratty words' to descibe the rat. The poem tells how the boy overcomes his fear of rats.

      'An Advancement of Learning' by Seamus Heaney


      I took the embankment path
      (As always, deferring
      The bridge). The river nosed past,
      Pliable, oil-skinned, wearing

      A transfer of gables and sky.
      Hunched over the railing,
      Well away from the road now, I
      Considered the dirty-keeled swans.

      Something slobbered curtly, close,
      Smudging the silence: a rat
      Slimed out of the water and
      My throat sickened so quickly that

      I turned down the path in cold sweat
      But God, another was nimbling
      Up the far bank, tracing its wet
      Arcs on the stones. Incredibly then

      I established a dreaded
      Bridgehead. I turned to stare
      With deliberate, thrilled care
      At my hitherto snubbed rodent.

      He clockworked aimlessly a while,
      Stopped, back bunched and glistening,
      Ears plastered down on his knobbed skull,
      Insidiously listening.

      The tapered tail that followed him,
      The raindrop eye, the old snout:
      One by one I took all in.
      He trained on me. I stared him out

      Forgetting how I used to panic
      When his grey brothers scraped and fed
      Behind the hen-coop in our yard,
      On ceiling boards above my bed.

      This terror, cold, wet-furred, small-clawed,
      Retreated up a pipe for sewage.
      I stared a minute after him.
      Then I walked on and crossed the bridge.

      Cathie




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