Orange Drums, Tyrone, 1966

by Seamus Heaney

The lambeg balloons at his belly, weighs
Him back on his haunches, lodging thunder
Grossly there between his chin and his knees.
He is raised up by what he buckles under.

Each arm extended by a seasoned rod,
He parades behind it. And though the drummers
Are granted passage through the nodding crowd,
It is the drums preside, like giant tumours.

To every cocked ear, expert in its greed,
His battered signature subscribes ‘No Pope’.
The goatskin’s sometimes plastered with his blood.
The air is pounding like a stethoscope.

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