In the latest issue:

Democracy? No thanks

Eric Foner

The Bournemouth Set

Andrew O’Hagan

Short Cuts: How to Block Spike

Rupert Beale

Poem: ‘Lark’

Anne Carson

Mussolini’s Unrealism

Edward Luttwak

Characteristically Spenderish

Seamus Perry

Waiting for Valéry

Michael Wood

Bilingualism

Michael Hofmann

The Case for a Supreme Court

Stephen Sedley

A Great Wall to Batter Down

Adom Getachew

At Las Pozas: Edward James’s Sculpture Garden

Mike Jay

He’s Humbert, I’m Dolores

Emily Witt

Archigram’s Ghost

Jonathan Meades

‘Love at Last Sight’

Chloë Daniel

Instapoetry

Clare Bucknell

Scotland’s Dreaming

Rory Scothorne

Diary: In Guy Vaes’s Footsteps

Iain Sinclair

Casting and GatheringSeamus Heaney
Close
Close
Vol. 12 No. 18 · 27 September 1990
Poem

Casting and Gathering

Seamus Heaney

171 words

for Ted Hughes

Years and years ago, these sounds took sides:

On the left bank a green silk tapered cast
Went whispering through the air, saying hush
And lush, entirely free, no matter whether
It swished above the hayfield or the river.

On the right bank, like a speeded-up corncrake,
A sharp ratcheting kept on and on
Cutting across the stillness as another
Fisherman gathered line-lengths off his reel.

I am still standing there, awake and dreamy.
I have grown older and can see them both
Moving their arms and rods, working away,
Each one absorbed, proofed by the sounds he’s making.

One sound is saying, ‘You aren’t worth tuppence,
But neither is anybody. So watch Number One!’
The other says, ‘Go with it! Give and swerve.
You are everything you feel beside the river.’

I love hushed air. I trust contrariness.
Years and years go past and I cannot move
For I see that when one man casts, the other gathers
And then vice versa, without changing sides.

Send Letters To:

The Editor
London Review of Books,
28 Little Russell Street
London, WC1A 2HN

letters@lrb.co.uk

Please include name, address, and a telephone number.

Read anywhere with the London Review of Books app, available now from the App Store for Apple devices, Google Play for Android devices and Amazon for your Kindle Fire.

Read More

Sign up to our newsletter

For highlights from the latest issue, our archive and the blog, as well as news, events and exclusive promotions.

Newsletter Preferences