High Summer

The poem is set in the French Pays Basque region visited by the Heaney family in 1969 to fulfil the conditions of the Somerset Maugham Award. Heaney and Marie had their two young sons with them – Michael born in 1966 and Christopher born in 1968 who was cutting his teeth as they holidayed. The claustrophobia of gite accommodation in trying circumstances offered little respite to a man who was also a poet! Nothing was to be done to soothe Christopher (child cried inconsolably) when his crying most grated on parents in need of rest (at night). With his flowing locks the neighbours who mistook the ‘he’ for a ‘she’ (la petite) were treated to the endless wailing (him harrowing […]