Settings xvii

  The ‘Settings’ sequence presents a chain of backdrops against which personal events and dramas were played out. Within the dynamic period preceding Seeing Things when Heaney deliberately swooped on anything that stimulated memory or association (DOD 320),  he allowed himself to be transported back by the poems that ‘came on’ to the sites, subjects and emotions of primary experience, whence he weighs up what ‘in time … was extra, unforeseen and free’ (Markings I). All about ‘the myths surrounding eels’ (DOD93)! The poem sets an old wives’ tale  alongside the non-scientific theory of an early classical scholar later discarded as poppycock. Heaney is taken by the eel’s alleged curative power useful to him at moments when his creative ‘blood […]