Station Island – the Sequence VIII

The mood has changed: the soothing clear water of VII is replaced by the sombre turbulence of some Wagnerian overture. From his kneeling ‘station’ at the hard mouth of St Brigid’s Bed our staring pilgrim is conscious of darkening nature around him (Black water … granite airy space), of strengthening wind (White waves. Furrows snowcapped. A magpie … staggered), of physical discomfort. Enter another ghostly presence: there at the bed’s stone hub/ was my archaeologist (Heaney’s friend Tom Delaney who died of tuberculosis aged 32). Heaney recognises the man and his manner (very like himself … scribe’s face … straight-lipped smile …pretence of amazement) likening him to a 16th century Irish forest outlaw with his wing/ of woodkerne’s hair. Cheerless […]