The Haw Lantern

The Haw Lantern

By Seamus Heaney

The wintry haw is burning out of season,

crab of the thorn, a small light for small people,

wanting no more from them but that they keep

the wick of self-respect from dying out,

not having to blind them with illumination.

But sometimes when your breath plumes in the frost

it takes the roaming shape of Diogenes

with his lantern, seeking one just man;

so you end up scrutinized from behind the haw

he holds up at eye-level on its twig,

and you flinch before its bonded pith and stone,

its blood-prick that you wish would test and clear you,

its pecked-at ripeness that scans you, then moves on.

***

The Haw Lantern

El invernal espino arde fuera de estación,

agarrada de una espina, una pequeña luz para los humildes,

sin esperar nada de ellos sino que mantengan

la mecha de la dignidad encendida y la cuiden de la extinción,

sin tener que cegarse con iluminaciones.

Pero a veces cuando tu aliento asciende en el frio

toma la forma de Diógenes

con su linterna, buscando al hombre;

así que terminas siendo escrutado desde detrás del espino

mientras el sostiene al nivel de ojo su mirada,

y tu retrocedes ante esta unión de medula y piedra,

ante el pinchazo que tu deseas que pudiera medirte y limpiarte,

ante su dolorida madurez que te escruta y luego sigue adelante.

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