For our Volunteers
For all our volunteers, true ambassadors of the Republic of Conscience.
I came back from that frugal republic
with my two arms the one length, the customs
woman having insisted my allowance was myself.
The old man rose and gazed into my face
and said that was official recognition
that I was now a dual citizen.
He therefore desired me when I got home
to consider myself a representative
and to speak on their behalf in my own tongue.
Their embassies, he said, were everywhere
but operated independently
and no ambassador would ever be relieved.
“From the Republic of Conscience,” from Opened Ground: Selected Poems 1966-1996 by Seamus Heaney. Copyright © 1998 by Seamus Heaney.