Stranger Fruit

Seamus Heaney turns 70

Seamus Heaney, Irish poet and Nobel Prize winner is 70 today. To celebrate here is his poem “Strange Fruit,” one of a series of poems about bog-bodies.

Here is the girl’s head like an exhumed gourd.
Oval-faced, prune-skinned, prune-stones for teeth.

They unswaddled the wet fern of her hair
And made an exhibition of its coil,
Let the air at her leathery beauty.
Pash of tallow, perishable treasure:
Her broken nose is dark as a turf clod,
Her eyeholes blank as pools in the old workings.
Diodorus Siculus confessed
His gradual ease with the likes of this:
Murdered, forgotten, nameless, terrible
Beheaded girl, outstaring axe
And beatification, outstaring
What had begun to feel like reverence.

Some more of Heaney’s poetry is available online here.


  1. #1 Tristram Brelstaff
    April 13, 2009

    I just listened to this interview of Heaney by Mark Lawson for BBC Radio 4.

  2. #2 Larry Ayers
    April 13, 2009

    I’m unfamiliar with Heaney’s poems, and in general I don’t read much poetry, but this is a good poem; thanks for presenting it. The word “pash” is unfamiliar to me — never read it before. Have to do some etymological research!

  3. #3 DLC
    April 16, 2009

    Being unfamiliar with Heaney’s work I wondered where the blog name came from. I actually thought of the old song of the same title, as sung by Billie Holiday.
    ( video at: )
    Strangely enough, both have to do with killings.

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