The Little Canticles of Asturias

Three snippets from a wider poetic travelogue recount stages along the roads of northern Spain that lead to Santiago de Compostela, the cathedral city and culmination of the Camino de Santiago, the pilgrim Way of St James. Heaney and his passengers are not pilgrims as such and Heaney only reaches Santiago de Compostela in imagination. Heaney’s canticles, traditionally hymns or chants, are composed as three short pieces. The first paints a real-life descent into a Dantesque hell; the second, the calm after the storm, focuses on the spiritual and emotional restitution of the soul; the third concentrates on bodily recovery before returning to the pilgrim theme. 1 Heaney presents an on-going (and then) chronicle at mid-point (in medias res). Driver […]