A Peacock’s Feather

Spurred by his wife Heaney extemporized the poem (dated 1972) on the day his and Marie Heaney’s niece Daisy Garnett was christened. The child was the middle daughter of Marie’s sister Polly Devlin and her well-connected old-Etonian husband Andrew Garnett living in their stately home in Gloucestershire, England. Polly Devlin describes it as ‘profound and delicate, strong and sub-texted, glowing with observation and truth’ (Writing Home). The circumstances might actually have presented Heaney with moments of unease hidden in his carefully worded narrative: he is in a stately home that would have held different connotations back in Ireland not least for a modest farmer’s boy like himself. He knows the Devlin family very well (so must be careful to govern […]