A Mite-Box

The poem renews and down-sizes the charity theme in Human Chain, from large-scale international aid to the poet’s experiences as a youngster carrying a collecting-box round the parish in search of donations towards ‘foreign missions’.  Despite the numbing effect of stroke the memory triggered from Heaney’s childhood is very much alive: But still/ to feel;  Heaney was skilled at the collector’s rôle adopting an entreating pose, with cupped palm, and feeling with a growing sense of achievement brought about by the chunk and clink of coins donated by willing if badly-off neighbours until his box was Full to its slotted lid with copper coins. The cheaply-made, self-assembly cardboard kit of the mite-box gave away its religious provenance: Wedge-roofed like a little oratory. The task of collecting brought with it the need […]