2 A Constable Calls

The poem is a tour de force – a simple and hugely atmospheric vignette depicting an incident in the life of a minority Catholic farming family in a Protestant-ruled province called Northern Ireland. What we know about the principal actors renders it unmistakably autobiographical – fly-on-the-wall boy Heaney senses his father might be attempting to deceive authority but gives him the benefit of the doubt. Heaney provides the ingredients of 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 boy; 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 […]