A Basket of Chestnuts

Heaney reflects on the ‘meaning’ of the portrait of himself exhibited in the National Gallery of Ireland, focusing on a local-colour prop that does not actually appear in the finished panel. Involuntary memory (shadow boost) has brought chesnuts into his mind: the random act of handling a loaded basket has conjured up a hazy, ill-defined occurence (giddy strange assistance)  swinging it revealed an interplay between gravity and weightlessness. He considers the dynamic variation of mass and momentum (lightness …  diminish …  actual weight), picks out the split second at the apex of the lift when hands feel no pull (unburdened), as if left behind (outstripped), surprised (dismayed), redundant (passed through). Then, just as unexpectedly, comes bounce-back  (rebound), gravitational downthrust, and counter […]