2 A Constable Calls

Heaney provides the ingredients of a a compelling psychological drama: an atmosphere of threat; an attentive youngster; an interrogation; a father’s lie; a moral dilemma that tests the innocence of the listening child; the threat receding. The ‘poet-film-director’ employs all the zooms, pans and slow-motions of cinematic technique. The boy’s eye is the camera, his ear records the sounds. The first two stanzas follow the child’s curiosity: he examines an anonymous visitor’s bicycle in some detail; (like its rider) it is a standard-model, robust and immaculately turned out, from the rubber cowl of a mud-splasher to its dynamo. The boy notes fat black handlegrips and pedal treads hanging. Then the poet injects a change of mood, a sense of threat: […]