The Birch Grove

A retired couple in their domestic setting. Both the couple and the tress they have planted are at their happiest growing close together. Heaney revealed to DOD (p.412)  that the poem is  ‘a portrait of Bernard McCabe (English academic and writer) and his wife Jane (to both of whom the Haw Lantern collection is dedicated) in a little grove they planted at the bottom of their garden in Ludlow (Shropshire, UK)’. The Heaneys and McCabes were close friends spending time abroad in each other’s company. Heaney picks out the differences between the two personalities with great subtlety. Heaney tells us the ‘where’ – close to the babble of the river Teme in a walled off enclave akin to historical buildings […]