In the past I have set some of Heaney's work to music for singers but this is the first time I have taken the opportunity to respond to one of his poems in a purely instrumental way. The freedom that came with this approach was liberating, bringing a sense of adventure to the writing process which I hope will be mirrored in the piece itself. Heaney's ability always to respond to diverse aspects of the human experience with insight and dignity is an inspiration, and I have attempted to underpin the dark and aggressive elements in this piece of music with a sanguinity that I hope will acknowledge the poet's influence on it.
Ian Wilson 2009
Anything Can Happen
after Horace, Odes, I, 34
Anything can happen. You know how Jupiter
Will mostly wait for clouds to gather head
Before he hurls the lightning? Well, just now
He galloped his thunder cart and his horses
Across a clear blue sky. It shook the earth
And the clogged underearth, the River Styx,
The winding streams, the Atlantic shore itself.
Anything can happen, the tallest towers
Be overturned, those in high places daunted,
Those overlooked regarded. Stropped-beak Fortune
Swoops, making the air gasp, tearing the crest off one,
Setting it down bleeding on the next.
Ground gives. The heaven's weight
Lifts up off Atlas like a kettle-lid.
Capstones shift, nothing resettles right.
Telluric ash and fire-spores boil away.
from the collection 'District and Circle', published by Faber and Faber (2006)
© Seamus Heaney, reproduced by kind permission of the publisher