‘Had I not been awake I would have missed it’.

Heaney recalls a moment pivotal to his recovery from stroke (in 2006 in a Co Donegal guesthouse) describing the moment when Nature’s external show of energy kick-started his own internal engine. The poem builds in Heaney’s certainty (Had I not been awake) that he would not have been conscious of his next poetic spark (I would have missed it). There is a further dimension – within the consciousness of an agnostic poet over 70 years of age, lies the knowledge that departing this world will bring everything to a close. Sleep inducing treatment has rendered moments of consciousness more fleeting and increasingly important; ‘reawakening’ generates a new-found impetus that replaces a mind-set of physical and mental frailty, even fear. Heaney’s […]