Reading Aloud (#3): Seamus Heaney's "The Harrow-Pin" (2006)
We'd be told, "If you don't behave There'll be nothing in your Christmas stocking for you But an old kale stalk." And we would believe him.
But if kale meant admonition, a harrow-pin Was correction's veriest unit. Head-banged spike, forged fang, a true dead ringer
Out of a harder time, it was a stake He'd drive through aspiration and pretence For our instruction.
Let there once be any talk of decoration, A shelf for knick-knacks, a picture-hook or -rail, And the retort was instant: "Drive a harrow-pin."
Brute-forced, rusted, haphazardly set pins From harrows wrecked by horse-power over stones Lodged in the stable wall and on them hung
Horses' collars lined with sweat-veined ticking, Old cobwebbed reins and hames and eye-patched winkers, The tackle of the mighty, simple dead.