The Harrow-Pin

  In this first of three ‘workshop’ poems Heaney paints the character portrait of local blacksmith, Barney Devlin of ‘Midnight Anvil’, recalling his uncompromising finger-wagging insistence on high moral standards amongst the rural children who frequented his workshop … and we believed him. Barney is issuing the ‘old’ warning  that Santa Claus only visits good children – the naughty ones will get only an inedible vegetable (old kale stick) – his short-lived spoken reprimand (admonition) compares with the enduring  solidity of the harrow-pin he is producing, a symbol of ‘real’ chastisement if ever there was one: correction’s veriest unit.. The pin’s qualities are listed: blacksmith-produced, a head-banged spike with the sharpness of a tooth (forged fang); a pin resembling a […]