As early as Blackberry Picking with his family in Death of a Naturalist (1966) child-Heaney discovered perishability In the world around him, laws of mutabilty that reduced stored treasure to decomposition, pleasurable blackberries to ‘rat-grey fungus’. The experience offered him two lessons, firstly that nothing remains in its perfect state for long and secondly that moments of poetic charge from whatever source can and do spark an involuntary welling up of emotional consciousness within him. The heart-on-ones-sleeve responses of that early poem are replaced, in the metaphysical parable of Hailstones, by the outcome of a childhood experience in which ice melted into nothing and how its nothingness in the mind of a child destined to become a poet became an […]