"For a long time I have held my peace, I have kept myself still and restrained myself; now I will cry out like a woman in labor, I will gasp and pant" (Is 42:14)

Day 2: St Kevin and the Blackbird

St Kevin and the Blackbird
Seamus Heaney, Nobel Laureate (1939-2013)

nd then there was St Kevin and the blackbird.
The saint is kneeling, arms stretched out, inside
His cell, but the cell is narrow, so
One turned-up palm is out the window, stiff
As a crossbeam, when a blackbird lands
And lays in it and settles down to nest.
Kevin feels the warm eggs, the small breast, the tucked
Neat head and claws and, finding himself linked
Into the network of eternal life,
Is moved to pity: now he must hold his hand
Like a branch out in the sun and rain for weeks
Until the young are hatched and fledged and flown.


And since the whole thing’s imagined anyhow,
Imagine being Kevin. Which is he?
Self-forgetful or in agony all the time
From the neck on out down through his hurting forearms?
Are his fingers sleeping? Does he still feel his knees?
Or has the shut-eyed blank of underearth
Crept up through him? Is there distance in his head?
Alone and mirrored clear in love’s deep river,
‘To labour and not to seek reward,’ he prays,
A prayer his body makes entirely
For he has forgotten self, forgotten bird
And on the riverbank forgotten the river’s name.

About the Poem

This poem is one that, after reading, its image remains forever. It contains a poignancy conveyed in words as if those are of a sculptor's intricate carvings, or a maestro's musical notes in a grand symphony. Personally, I am blown away and flabbergasted by the resulting artistic creation. Seamus Heaney has depicted for us what true and steadfast love means. What has been known through Sacred Scriptures about doing anything out of love, this time, it comes to us like a breath of fresh air.

On the second day of the Season of Creation let us use this poem written by a Nobel Laureate (First Irish Catholic to win the 1995 Nobel Prize in Literature), and whom I consider as one of the poets for these challenging times. I recommend this poem for our Season of Creation daily devotion. In lieu of St Kevin meditate or contemplate Brother Sun, Sisters Moon and Earth. The author himself recommended to meditate on the story. Within this poem too is a line that is attributed to St Ignatius of Loyola, e.g., "To labour and not to seek reward..." which is found in the saint's Prayer for Generosity. 8thWorker.us


  1. Oh my God this is powerful!🙏🙏🙏💖💖💖🥰🥰🥰 Love in action

    1. Thanks much for appreciating St Kevin's image of powerful and self-forgetful love! GBU!


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