The Hermit

The Sweeney Redevivus poems are fascinating in terms of voicing. In his notes Heaney indicates that they are ‘voiced for Sweeney’ but this does not and cannot exclude the poet’s participation. Each poem resembles a piece of music with a background accompaniment and two voices that pick up the melody in turn or together; the mood of each piece varies as does its ensemble effect on the listener’s ear and the reader’s sensibility. In contrast to the Ronan missionary figure of The Cleric (see previous poem) Heaney focuses attention on an equally emblematic figure of early Christian history. Hermits generally chose seclusion and ascetic self-sacrifice to the Ronan-style big-impact approach.. The anonymous hermit guards the plot of land he has […]