Glanmore Sonnets – 5

                                                                                                         v Heaney examines the distinctive textures of the two languages and traditions that shaped his upbringing (MP 169) From his new-found Glanmore location Heaney explores in his mind the properties of a familiar tree first known by its mid Ulster name (boortree). He can still feel its vertically furrowed trunk (soft corrugations), recall its eagerness to grow (green young shoots) and its youngest branches (rods) shining molten silver with dark flecking (freckled solder). Once upon a time the Heaney siblings used it as a hideaway (our bower as children), now in retrospect a tad less appreciated (greenish, dank and snapping memory).  Background and education taught him a different name (elderberry I have learned to call it). Heaney had a […]

Glanmore Sonnets – 4

                                                                                                  IV Heaney vaults neatly over the recent past in Belfast to land in his rural surroundings at Mossbawn farm skirted by the Castledawson railway line. Precociously curious, the child-poet-to-be was interested in the messages of sound … if one knew how, the railway track (lie with an ear to the line), he was told (they said), would broadcast in advance (a sound escaping ahead) the metallic song (iron tune) of an express steam locomotive (flange and piston) speeding headlong by (pitched along the ground). Nothing so romantic happened in his case (I never heard that) – just the echoes of freight traffic (struck couplings and shuntings) from Castledawson marshalling-yard (two miles away) carried through space (lifted over the woods). […]