From the Canton of Expectation

Heaney’s much admired triptych attracted comments from high-flying politician and revered academic alike: Irish President Mary McAleese commented on the educational aspect: ‘Heaney describes the changes wrought when education became available to those whose destiny had been to be second best, and to make a virtue of stoically, even pathetically, putting up with it’; Helen Vendler remarked on the ‘metaphysical parable’ schematic: its three parts – nationalist exhausted optatives, youthful imperatives and the yearning for an indicative – sketch the state of the Northern Catholic population, and its competing discourses, without ever mentioning it by name. The ‘Canton’ from which Heaney speaks to us is a unit in time and space as big or as small as he wants it […]