The Settle Bed

Heaney pictures a massive piece of Irish furniture that came to live and belong in Glanmore Cottage.  The inherited gift smacked of Ulster’s past and is used as a metaphor for shared heritage and a better future. The settle bed came as a bequest (willed down), known in advance (waited for), eventually installed (in place at last) and permanent (for good). Its properties reveal its character and style: foldable and hinged (trunk-hasped); weighing a ton (cart-heavy); crudely decorated (painted an ignorant brown); as narrow as church seating (pew-strait); cavernous (bin-deep); all in all, a hallowed object (standing four-square as an ark). To lie in it was to be encoffined (cribbed in seasoned deal), waiting like a Viking hero for cremation […]