Monday, 23 July 2018

Seamus Heaney: 'Miracle'

I was recently reading the accounts in Luke 5:17-26 and Mark 2:1-12 describing how Jesus healed a paralyzed man after he had been lowered through a gap in the roof of the house. I was reminded of the poem 'Miracle' by Seamus Heaney, inspired by these accounts, which appeared in Human Chain, Heaney's last collection in 2010. Heaney also referenced this event in 'The Skylight', part of his 'Glanmore Revisited' sequence.

'Miracle' was, I think, my favourite poem from Human Chain. It can be read from either a spiritual or a secular perspective, as it describes a miraculous occurrence, but focuses on the friends of the suffering man and all that they do to help him. Their "slight lightheadedness", caused both by their physical exertions and by the wonder of what they've witnessed, is so human. The poem is partly a tribute to Heaney's own friends who helped him after he suffered a stroke in 2006, and it reminded me that in small or large ways, we can play our own part for good and help to make things greater than ourselves come about.

Photo: Ramp up to the Rafters by Paul Sableman. Used under Creative Commons license 

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