A Daylight Art

for Norman MacCaig In this fascinating poem Heaney seeks to shed light on tantalizing questions. What is self-doubt?  What is ‘art’? Where does it begin and where does it end? Is there a place alongside ‘art’ for ‘art form’? Where does he stand? He shines his lamp on what makes people tick – historical or classical figures or characters in tragic drama  – and finally what makes him tick. He claims his ‘light’ is generated from pursuits he follows, the ‘art’ writing poetry and the ‘art form’ of catching fish! Jacques Louis David’s canvas of Socrates pictures him on his death couch (day he was to take the poison), holding forth to friends, supporters and gaolers. Heaney is perplexed that, […]