The Nod

A disturbing sonnet set in Heaney’s adolescence pursues the themes of suspicion and hidden threat, reflects on the implications of being ‘recognised’ when a community is unstable and requires an armed police reserve presence  … and asks who exactly one’s ‘neighbour’ is. A slight inclination of the head, ostensibly one of unspoken recognition, is not always what it seems. The poem recalls uncomfortable sectarian moments akin to the final piece of Senior Infants. Routine meat shopping for Sunday lunch (we would stand in line) with his father in a Saturday evening queue of folk with similar aims in mind. Young Heaney was struck by the vivid colours: red for the meat, white string and standard brown-paper ripped from a roll […]