Settings xviii

  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, caricatures and emotions of primary experience, whence he weighs up what ‘in time … was extra, unforeseen and free’ (Markings I). A precocious youngster comments on a fall from power; his over-fifty-self credits that early discrimination. Attending a rural Ulster get-together of countrymen (fair-hill), young Heaney takes a dislike to a rope salesman. He watches the smutty routine of an individual who thinks highly of himself […]