Yes, the road.

Yes, the road.
Eagle Nest, New Mexico. “People like to drive because driving is actually and symbolically an almost perfect mechanism for escape…there is probably no human being who does not have troubles, real or imagined, from which he at times feels the need to flee.” George R. Stewart.


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Brooklin, Maine, United States
We own a 1975 GMC Sierra Grande 15 in Maine and a 1986 Chevrolet Custom Deluxe 10 in West Texas. Also a pair of 1997 Volvo 850 wagons. Average age in the fleet is 28 years--we're recycling. I've published 3 novels: THE LAW OF DREAMS (2006), THE O'BRIENS (2012), and CARRY ME (2016). Also 2 short story collections: NIGHT DRIVING(1987) and TRAVELLING LIGHT (2013). More of my literary life is at I was a Fellow at the Netherlands Institute for Advanced Study for 2012-13. I'm an adjunct professor at Colorado College and in the MFA program at Queens University of Charlotte. In 2015-16 I was a Fellow at Harvard University's Radcliffe Institute for Advanced Study. The Autoliterate office is in Car Talk Plaza in Harvard Square, 2 floors above Dewey Cheatem & Howe. SUBSCRIBE TO THE AUTOLITERATE DAILY EMAIL by hitting the button to the right.

Monday, January 27, 2014

North Seamus Heaney Sligo John & Ellen

Came across this photo of Cathedral of the Immaculate Conception at Sligo, Ireland. I've spent a bit of time at Sligo over the years, digging around after a family myth. The last time I saw my  grandmother, Edith Hamilton Lillis, she was ninety-four, and she told me a story she'd not spilled before. When her parents were married at the Cathedral at Sligo in 1877, they were pelted with garbage as they came out of the church after the wedding. This inspired them to leave Ireland directly, which they did. It was a 'mixed' marriage: John Lillis was Catholic, Ellen Ormsby Hamilton was Protestant, and in Ireland at that time and place, never the twain shall meet. To marry in the Catholic church Ellen would have had to agree at a minimum to raise all the children Catholics, a promise she held to, even after the early death of her husband. Probably this 'disloyalty' would have enraged some elements of the Protestant population: but no one like mixed marriages, so perhaps two communities got together for a nonsectarian pelting. You never can tell, in Ireland. "Great hatred/little room/maimed us at the start" says Mr Yeats, who ought to know, as he grew up (mostly) in Sligo.  And Seamus Heaney from the North (Derry) had something to say about hatred, and how to survive it, if you were a writer:

     Seamus Heaney

I returned to a long strand,
the hammered curve of a bay,
and found only the secular
powers of the Atlantic thundering.

I feel the unmagical
invitations of Iceland,
the pathetic colonies
of Greenland, and suddenly

those fabulus raiders,
those lying in Orkney and Dublin
measured against
their long swords rusting,

were ocean-deafened voices
warning me, lifted again
in violence and ephiphany.
The longship's swimming tongue

was buoyant with hindsight--
it said Thor's hammer swung
to geography and trade,
thick-witted couplings and revenges,

the hatreds and behindbacks
of the althing, lies and women
exhaustions nominated peace
memory incubating the spilled blood.

It said, "Lie down
in the word-hoard, burrow
the coil and gleam
of your furrowed brain.

Compose in darkness.
Expect aurora borealis
in the long foray
but no cascade of light.

Keep your eye clear
as the bleb of the icicle,
trust the feel of what nubbed treasure
your hands have known.

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