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    The Given Note

    A visual interpretation of Seamus Heaney’s poem asks where music comes from.

    By Julian Peters

    November 16, 2023
    • Eugene McAleer

      Wonderful illustrations. The poem was inspired by a tune called The tune of the ghosts(or fairies). It is said the tune came to a fiddler in rough weather when he was wandering around at night alone in the ruined village off the S.W. coast of Ireland. Seamus Heaney comes from Derry, in Ireland. I grew up not far from there and love his poetry.

    • Diantha L Zschoche

      I fell in love with Ecphasis many years ago after a work shop I attended. I am a poet so I often let my words capture the voice or a painting or music, etc. I look forward to seeing more of his work.

    • Christina

      Beautiful! Thank you.

    This poetry comic is excerpted from Poems to See By.

    On the most westerly blasket, in a dry-stone hut
    He got this air out of the night
    Strange noises were heard by others who followed, bits of a tune coming in on loud weather
    Though nothing like melody. He blamed their fingers and ear as unpracticed, their fiddling easy
    for he had gone alone into the island, and brought back the whole thing
    The house throbbed like his full violin
    So whether he calls it spirit music or not, I don't care. He took it
    Out of wind off the mid-atlantic
    Still he maintains, from nowhere
    It comes off the bow gravely,
    Rephrases itself into the air.

    “The Given Note” from Seamus Heaney, Door into the Dark (London: Faber & Faber, 1969). Used with permission.

    Contributed By JulianPeters Julian Peters

    Julian Peters is an illustrator and comic book artist living in Montreal, Canada, who focuses on adapting classical poems into graphic art. His work has been exhibited internationally and published in several poetry and graphic art collections.

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